Korra's first raid took place without serious incident. She had found herself cornered by a chi-blocker at one point, but thankfully, Tarrlok incapacitated him, and Korra walked out of the training center without a scratch. Her stern face was plastered on the cover of every newspaper in the city the next morning, standing by a line of apprehended Equalists and pushing her way through the thick crowd outside. It was a great success, and the newspapers spoke highly of their brave and capable Avatar, joining forces with the police to take out the people that had so much of the city locked up in fear.

The task force wound up eating up even more of Korra's time than she expected. Between chasing down chi-blockers and keeping up with her Airbending, she had time for nothing else. She hadn't been to the gym in ages, and she had the feeling that the brothers were annoyed with her. Her relationship with Asami had taken a backseat as well, the two not seeing or speaking to each other since the gala. Asami had called on the telephone a few times, but Korra avoided answering each time, twice having the legitimate excuse of being in the middle of training and once with a lie that she wasn't feeling well enough to get up and answer. According to Tenzin, Asami had also come to the island once to see her personally, although as luck would have it, Korra had been performing a raid at the time.

They were all three probably really irritated with her, she realized. She was falling further and further behind in her pro-bending, the tournament looming menacingly over her team, and she hadn't spoken a single word to Asami. But she was the Avatar, and her Avatar duties did come first, after all. They would just have to deal with it.

It was days before Asami finally caught up with her. She came to the island at dusk just when Korra was wrapping up training for the day, finding her and Tenzin with ease.

"Asami, good evening," Tenzin said as she slipped out of the encroaching darkness to greet them.

"I hope I'm not interrupting," she said, very pointedly avoiding meeting Korra's eyes.

"We were just finishing up."

"Good." She hesitated for a split second. "Is it okay if Korra stays out here with me for a few minutes?"

"We're about to have dinner," he said slowly. "You're more than welcome to join us."

"Oh, no, that's okay," she said. "I'm sorry, this was a bad time."

"I don't need to eat right now, Tenzin," Korra cut in, rolling her sleeves back up to her shoulders. "I won't be long."

"...Very well," he agreed. "We'll save a dinner plate for you."

"Thank you."

He took his leave, long robes billowing around him. Asami cleared her throat, finally fixing her green eyes on Korra. A small, tired smile tugged at her lips as she took in Korra's Airbending attire.

"Nice uniform."

Korra blinked and scowled lightly, tugging at the excessive fabric that hung in drapes around her limbs. "Island policy for Airbending training, unfortunately."

"It's cute," Asami assured her.

Korra shrugged, crossing her arms and kicking a loose stone. It skipped halfway across the training field. "Did you need anything?"

"I wanted to talk."

"We're talking."

Asami sighed. "Walk with me, then?"

Her mouth felt dry. "Sure."

They left the training area and made their way down the path that led to the pier. Asami didn't say a word the entire time, and Korra wondered what she wanted, although she was sure she could guess. Asami hadn't known her long, and a girl like her probably had people all but lining up for the opportunity to date her. Why would she stay with someone who didn't even have time for her?

They walked along the beach for a few minutes, sand shifting treacherously under their feet. The bay stretched out beyond them, the first city lights of the evening glittering on its surface. The evening was peaceful and quiet, the sky cloudless and dyed muted shades of orange and yellow and purple. The perfect end to a crisp fall day.

Asami stopped abruptly and folded herself down on the sand, gesturing for Korra to follow suit. When they were situated, they both stared silently out at the water, watching a boat chug along across the bay.

"How is the task force going?"

The question surprised Korra. It was literally the last thing she expected Asami to talk about.

"It's going great," she said without any real enthusiasm. "We took out two training centers this week."

"Yeah, I read about that in the papers," Asami said slowly, "but that isn't what I meant."

Korra blinked at her, puzzled. "What?"

"Korra, are...are you okay?"

She snorted out a burst of laughter she didn't really feel. "Me? Okay? Of course I'm okay, why wouldn't I be okay?"

"I feel like you're avoiding me," Asami said candidly. "I know you're really busy, but we still haven't seen each other at all since Tarrlok's gala." She slowly trailed her fingers through the sand between them. "You seemed really upset when it was over, but you barely said a word to anyone about it. And Bolin says you haven't been showing up to practice, so I know it's not just me."

Korra snorted lightly before she could stop herself. "Wow, you're keeping tabs on me," she said flatly, fixing her stare on the city across the water. "Have you thought about checking in with Tarrlok, too?"

"Korra, I'm worried," Asami said, voice pained. "I know that you're busy, but you're not leaving time for yourself. It isn't healthy."

"I can't help that. I'm the Avatar and I'm fulfilling my duties to learn the four elements and protect people." She crossed her arms protectively over her stomach. "That's just how it is, Asami."

Fingertips against her jaw, cool and light, gently turning her head to face Asami.

"Please don't shut your friends out," she said softly. "We want to help you."

Her hard resolve faltered, and she glanced down before it could crumble further.

"I do miss you," Korra admitted, voice hushed. "It's just..."

"Just what?"

The truth was lodged somewhere in her throat, but she couldn't get it out.

"It's just...hard...getting away from my duties right now," she said without conviction. It wasn't a lie, she told herself, but that didn't make it the truth.

Asami draped her arm around Korra's shoulders and pulled her into an embrace that Korra was helpless to rebuff. She wrapped her arms around Asami's middle and buried her face in her loose, dark, sweet-smelling hair. She could stay like that forever and not regret it.

"I...should probably go back," Asami said with a note of sadness. "I told Dad I would only be an hour."

"Of course," Korra said, pulling back and trying to keep the disappointment from her face.

"But..." Asami cupped her face and gave her a quick kiss. "Can we go out sometime soon? Together? Please?"

She wanted to say no. She wanted to ask Asami to just come to the island and stay there instead, sit with Korra and hold her and talk nonsense to distract her. But in the dim twilight, Asami's plaintive expression was almost impossible to turn down.

"I have a press conference tomorrow evening," she said, glancing down. "If you meet me at city hall when it's done, we can go do something for a little while as long as I don't stay out too late."

Asami stood, pulling Korra to her feet along with her, and kissed her again. "Thank you."

Korra walked her back to the pier, and they both stopped for one last long embrace.

"I want you to talk to me if something is bothering you," Asami said softly. She gave Korra a hard squeeze. "It's okay to be scared, you know."

Korra tensed, pulling back and staring at Asami with wide eyes. "I'm not scared."

Asami gave her a sad smile, tracing the loose edge of Korra's tied-back bangs and stroking her cheek quickly.

"I'll see you tomorrow evening," she said, turning towards the ferry with one last wave.

"Asami-"

She paused, looking at Korra over her shoulder.

Korra wanted to pull loose the plug in her chest and let everything she was feeling spill out, the swirling quagmire of unsifted feelings throbbing in her veins like poison, but she swallowed the urge and gave Asami a shaky smile.

"Be safe getting home."

"...I will."

She boarded the ferry with a final smile at Korra and vanished to the bow. It took off moments later, and Korra slowly made her way from the sandy beach to the pier, her footsteps heavy on the hard wood. She walked down to the pier's end, sitting on the ledge and watching the ferry draw further and further away until it was an indistinct blur against the water, until the city lights had overwhelmed it and swallowed it whole.


The press conference was less of a nightmare than it could have been, but that wasn't saying much. The only blessing so far was that Tarrlok was doing most of the talking. He praised Korra as a fearless spearhead of the task force, leading the charge against Amon bravely. She stood behind him all the while, scowling lightly and wondering how long it would be until she could go. Ever since the fiasco at the gala, reporters have inspired nothing in her but suspicion and irritation. She felt trapped under their piercing gazes.

"Question for the Avatar!" said one woman once Tarrlok had finished talking. "Amon remains at large. Why have you failed to locate him?"

Something that had been drawn tight inside of Korra's gut splintered and broke with a sharp crack.

"You want to know why?" she snapped, pushing Tarrlok aside and taking his place at the podium. "Because Amon is hiding in the shadows like a coward!" She snatched up the microphone, feedback whining, her voice bringing dead silence to the room. "Amon, I challenge you to a duel!" she said, roving her eyes across the sea of shocked reporters. "No task force, no chi-blockers, just the two of us tonight at midnight on Avatar Aang Memorial Island. Let's cut to the chase and settle this thing...if you're man enough to face me."

With a defiant glare fixed in place, she threw the microphone back down and stormed off the podium, the sharp whine of feedback punctuating the gesture. She heard the clamor of the reporters behind her, asking for specifics and details, but she ignored them all.

She found Asami waiting outside of the door. Korra only had to wonder for a split second whether she had heard before registering the shocked look on her face. She swallowed hard, praying that Asami wouldn't pry.

"Come on," she said gruffly. "I kind of have an appointment at midnight."

"Korra-"

"Avatar Korra, wait just a minute!"

She wanted to scream. She turned around to scowl up at Tarrlok, arms crossed. "I'm busy," she said curtly. "If you're here to try to talk me out of it, you're wasting your time and mine."

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" he asked, one eyebrow arched. "You know firsthand how dangerous Amon is."

"That's why I'm doing this," she snapped. "I need to stop him, Tarrlok. I thought you would understand that."

"I do understand, but I must implore you not to go through with this. Facing Amon is far too dangerous. With his skills-"

"I'm not afraid to face him!"

"Which is admirable," he said, inclining his head briefly, "but the risk that he will defeat you and take your bending is too great. You can't handle facing him alone. I must insist that you call this off."

A visible tremor of rage ran through her. "I'm going to face Amon tonight and I'm going to stop him. I can handle this, Tarrlok."

He sighed. "Well, far be it from me to argue with the Avatar when she's made up her mind."

"Are you serious?!" Asami balked. "Korra, no, this is ridiculous, you can't go through with this!"

"This isn't any of your business, Asami," Korra said, anger spiking.

"I will arrange for the police force to stand by in case something goes wrong," Tarrlok said, cutting Asami off from making a furious rebuttal. "I assure you, Miss Sato, at no point will the Avatar be in any danger."

Asami's entire body went absolutely rigid with barely-controlled rage, and for a split second, Korra thought she was going to go off on Tarrlok. Instead, she took a deep breath and let it back out in a slow sigh.

"Let's just go," she said to Korra. "We can't stay out all night."

"Be at the docks by 11:30," Tarrlok said. "We will have a boat ready for you to take across."

"Let's go," Asami snapped again, taking Korra by the arm and dragging her out of the hall.


They took Naga to the park in absolute silence. Asami's refusal to speak was starting to wear on Korra's nerves, but she didn't want to say anything either in case it set off some sort of lecture about how terrible an idea it was for Korra to confront Amon. Whatever Asami had to say about the matter, Korra didn't want to hear it.

At night, the park was peaceful and quiet, the dimly lit paths occupied only by other couples. She felt Asami relax slightly against her back, arms that were locked around her waist slacking.

"Let's take a taxi ride through the park," Asami suggested softly.

Korra started at both her voice and the suggestion. "What? Why would we do that? We have Naga."

"You wouldn't have to worry about steering if we took a taxi."

"And we wouldn't have to needlessly spend money on something stupid if we took Naga."

Asami froze for a split second before detangling her arms from around Korra. She pushed herself away and slid down from her perch on Naga's back, landing far too gracefully than she had any right to.

"Wait," Korra said, dumbfounded, "where are you going?"

"Home," Asami snapped, glaring up at her. "If you didn't want to go out you should have just said so."

Korra sputtered furiously, dismounting. "What?! I don't know if you noticed, Asami, but we are out!"

"But you don't want to be here, do you?" she challenged, crossing her arms and glaring down at Korra.

"Of course I do," she said with a petulant scowl.

"Do you really? Or did you just agree to come out so I got off your back?"

Korra let out a frustrated growl, tugging painfully at her own hair. "Asami, stop this, I want to spend time with you! I just don't see the point in paying for a damn taxi when we can take Naga for free!"

"If I'm paying, then what does it matter?"

"...Fine. Fine!" She grabbed Naga's halter and dragged her along. "Find a taxi so we can get this over with."

Asami stared at her hard for a tense moment. With a shake of her head, she gestured for Korra to follow her. They found the line of small taxis for hire on the edge of the park. Naga sniffed the poor driver curiously, the expression on his face comically terrified.

"Uh...is this...your polar bear dog?"

"Yeah, don't worry," Korra muttered, running her fingers through the fur on Naga's neck, "she's harmless."

They climbed up into the taxi and the tiny vehicle started with a lurch, Naga trailing behind them to the dismay of the driver. Korra reflected in amusement that this would probably be the last time they did this while Naga was along.

The taxi was small without being cramped. If Korra was in a better mood, she might even think of it as cozy. It was easy to see why this was a popular activity for couples.

She felt Asami's hand on her knee, startling her into glancing away from the window.

"I'm sorry I snapped," Asami said, looking genuinely contrite. "I didn't mean to."

Korra's agitation leaked out of her in a useless hiss, her body slumping slightly. She wrapped a tentative arm around Asami's shoulders, and she fell against Korra, pressing her forehead to Korra's neck and holding her tight.

"It's okay," Korra murmured against the top of Asami's head. She trailed her fingers through her hair and traced patterns against her jacket. "I haven't exactly made things easy for you."

Asami nuzzled closer, warm against Korra's body.

"I know it sounds weird to say this," she said softly, "but I'm really glad I hit you with my moped."

Korra laughed out loud, squeezing her. "I am, too. Honest."

Asami reached up and found her hand, lacing their fingers together.

"Are you sure about facing Amon tonight?" she asked, voice hushed.

Korra sighed. "I'm sure," she said. "If I end it now it will be better for everyone."

"But it's dangerous," Asami said, pushing herself upright to look at Korra anxiously.

"Doing nothing is dangerous," Korra said. "I can't just stand by and let him keep hurting people. Why don't you get that?"

"I'm not saying you should do nothing," Asami clarified patiently, "but facing him alone, no backup...Korra, that's-"

"He won't have any backup, either," she argued, crossing her arms.

"You don't know that he'll stick to that," Asami said, exasperated. "He never formally accepted your challenge. He might not even show up."

"So what's the problem, then?" Korra said, throwing her hands up. "If he's not even gonna be there, I have nothing to worry about!"

"Because he might show up and he might bring his chiblockers, and if that happens you would be walking into an ambush alone." She settled a hand on Korra's shoulder only for Korra to turn away. "Listen, I know you're an amazing bender, and I think if it was just you and Amon, you could beat him. But I really don't think he would show up to this confrontation alone. Do you realize what could happen if he and his chiblockers ambush you? They-"

"I know what they could do, Asami!" Korra snapped, knocking her hand away furiously. "I was at the rally, in case you forgot! I personally saw Amon take away people's bending, remember?"

"Then you should know better than anyone else why you shouldn't do this!" she said. There was a pleading note to her voice that just angered Korra worse. "If you just waited until the right time-"

"Asami, you don't get it," Korra snarled, turning to glare at her. "Amon being as dangerous as he is, the fact that he can take away people's bending - that's exactly why I have to face him! Now, before he does more damage!"

"I do understand, and if there was a safe way for you to face him and stop him, I would tell you to go for it." She paused. "Why can't you bring police officers with you to the island? If you just had some kind of backup–"

"He won't show up if I have backup."

"If he wouldn't show up if there's a chance you have backup that could stop him, why would you go if there's a chance he would bring his chiblockers?" She reached out for Korra's face only to have her hand knocked away again. "Korra, please don't do this. It's not worth it. He could seriously hurt you. He could take away–"

"You think I don't know that?!" she burst furiously. "Do you think I haven't been remembering that rally constantly, thinking about what would happen if he caught me?! I can't stop thinking about it, Asami!" She rested her face in her hands for a moment before clenching them into fists and resting them both in her lap. "I almost saw a friend lose his bending – permanently. Amon would have done that to Bolin if we hadn't stopped him, and Bolin was completely innocent. I can't go through that again. I can't sit here waiting for him to do that to my friends – to me."

"I'm not saying he doesn't need to be stopped, Korra," Asami said firmly. "I want him stopped, too, believe me. What he's doing is terrible and wrong. But I don't think you charging into a dangerous situation head-first is going to solve anything."

"You just don't get it," Korra snapped, turning to glare out the window. "It doesn't matter how dangerous this is, I have to face him, and I have to do it alone."

"Korra..."

"What do you know, anyway?" Korra continued in a low, bitter voice. "You're not a bender. You don't know what it's like to see other benders have their bending taken away against their will, what it's like to wonder when it will happen to you. You'll never know that fear."

There was a long, pregnant pause.

"Do what you want," Asami said finally. Her voice was heavy with the slightest undercurrent of anger. "I can tell trying to talk you out of it was a mistake."

Korra clenched her fists so hard she thought her nails would break the skin of her palms. Not even bothering to ask the cab driver to stop, she pulled herself upright and jumped out of the still-moving vehicle, ignoring the perplexed driver as she circled around back to grab Naga by the harness.

She hoisted herself up on the saddle and shot one last look at the taxi, half-expecting it to have stopped, to see Asami climbing out to try to stop her again, but it just kept driving down the path.

"Let's go, girl," she said miserably, steering Naga towards the park exist closest to the harbor.


It happened in a terrifying blur of glowing red goggles and fire blasts. Deep down, she wasn't entirely surprised to find herself dragged into the temple below the statue and surrounded by Equalists, and Asami's concern echoed briefly in her mind before she fought – a deluge fire washing over the indistinct figures and jagged teeth of stone wrenched from the earth in a desperate kick sending them flying before a series of blows to her back made her fall numb and still and silent.

Hands on her arms, probably harsh enough to leave bruises; for the first and probably the last time in her life, she was thankful to have her chi blocked. She had no time to reorient herself before she was pulled upright and forced to face off with a menacing mask looming from the shadows.

It was literally a scene from her nightmares, only this time, it was real.

And he spoke, voice low: "I received your invitation, young Avatar."

She turned her face away, awash in horror, the image of Lightning Bolt Zolt burned suddenly into her vision – his lightning fading to flame and then to nothing, like someone turning off a faucet. That was going to be her.

He gripped her chin and forced her to face him while he gloated –

"Our showdown, while inevitable, is premature. Although it would be the simplest thing for me to take away your bending right now..."

...and her terror was her entire world for one white-hot moment. She was sitting in the middle of a group of Equalists, arms restrained, limbs useless, at the mercy of a man who could take away her bending, who could just reach inside her and strangle the life out of that part of her –

"...I won't." She was close enough to see his eyes through the holes in his mask, pale and yellowed in the flickering light. "You'd only become a martyr. Benders of every nation would rally behind your untimely demise."

And despite her fear, when he dropped her face, Korra also knew real, pure, untempered fury for the first time in her life. This was the man who tried to hurt Bolin, who took bending from people against their will right in front of her, and now he was here telling her about how he was sparing her–

"But I assure you, I have a plan – and I'm saving you for last."

What?

"Then, you'll get your duel. And I will destroy you."

She had no time to process the threat before he stood and struck her near the end, and then there was nothing.

Flashes in her mind. She felt like she was meeting people she had dreamed about, like she was sitting at the side of a rushing creek and looking at pictures on the bottom. Distinct but distant; new but familiar. It was the last image that struck a chord of recognition, a tall Airbender with a furious expression on his face. She had heard tales of him from her oldest bending master since she was a child, spent years wishing like nothing else that she could meet him, that she would have a breakthrough and see him and speak to him.

She slowly opened her eyes, hoping that he would be there, that it wasn't just her imagination. She was delirious with pain and fear, the temple dim and out of focus, but she could see someone running towards her, saffron robes billowing.

"Aang...?"

"Korra!"

It was Tenzin. He knelt next to her, frantically pulling her upright. "Korra, are you all right? What happened? Was Amon here?"

"...Y-yeah..." she glanced away, trying to get her bearings straight. She could feel a few tendrils of shame curling around her heart. Asami had been right, after all. "He...ambushed me."

"Did he–" Tenzin drew closer, concern clear. "Did he take your bending away?"

She opened her hand, a warm, red flower of fire blooming in her palm, petals licking her fingers. She shut her fist, crushing it.

"No," she said without any real conviction. "I'm okay."

"Oh, thank goodness."

And that was when she broke.


Tenzin let her cry herself out there in his arms sitting in the damaged temple below the looming statue of her predecessor. She lost track of time, unsure of how long she sat there and sobbed before her shoulders stopped shaking and her eyes ran dry. When she was done, he helped her to her feet and led her outside, arm still around her shoulders. It was impossibly late. In a few hours, the sun would rise. Korra's exhaustion sank into every inch of her body, dragging her down.

As they made their way to the boat docked at the island, Korra looked over her shoulder at Aang's statue. Aang. Her prior incarnation. The one person who could understand what she was dealing with, the one person she wanted to speak to the most, the one person she couldn't reach.

She remembered the reporter's question – "How do you think Avatar Aang would have handled this?" She thought that the confrontation she set up had been the answer. Aang went off to face Ozai alone, despite the reservations of his allies, and he defeated Ozai. She thought that by singling out Amon and demanding that he face her alone, she was doing what Aang would have done. She thought that by defeating Amon alone in direct combat, she would be living up to Aang's legacy. She did what he would have done to protect his city.

Somehow, she didn't think Aang would be letting Amon run around taking away people's bending. She also didn't think he would have walked into an ambush like that.

She felt like such a fool.

She turned her face away from the statue, but she was still aware of its shadow against her back, swallowing her whole. Aang had defeated a tyrant and stopped a century-long war at twelve, and she at seventeen couldn't stop a jerk in a mask from terrorizing a city. Pathetic. Maybe it was a good thing Aang couldn't talk to her; she didn't know if she wanted to hear how disappointed he was.

Were you afraid of Ozai, Aang? she wondered miserably as Tenzin guided her down the pier to the boat. Did you have nightmares, too?

Maybe it didn't matter. Maybe Aang was afraid and maybe he wasn't. He still stopped Ozai at the height of his power and brought peace to the world. He was a powerful Avatar, noble and fair and, if the stories were any indication, amazing. Korra was expected to follow in his footsteps, stopping people who threatened the balance at all costs, but she was failing. She was failing and it was the people who needed her protecting them that would pay for it.

Such, such a fool to think she could live up to Aang.

The ride back to Air Temple Island was quiet. She focused on the sound of the waves against the hull instead of the memory of her failure and wondered if Tenzin would let her skip Airbending the next day so she could sleep.

They got back to the island and made their way up the twisting path to the living quarters. As they entered the courtyard, Tenzin placed his hand on her shoulder again.

"There's no reason to be ashamed of what happened," he said softly. "You did what you could."

She lowered her eyes. "Somehow I don't think Aang would have let them knock him out."

Tenzin paused. "Aang was an incredible Avatar," he said slowly, "but he had his rough patches, too. That's all part of the learning process. Some methods work, some don't. You'll figure these things out in time."

When she didn't answer, he continued, leading them both towards the kitchen.

"Pema said she would wait up to make sure we got in safely," he said tiredly. "I don't think either of us anticipated it would take this long."

Korra winced guiltily as he opened the door. "I'm sorry."

"There's nothing to apologize for, Korra."

The kitchen was dark, oddly enough, but Korra could still make out a dim figure sitting at the table, staring out the window. When Tenzin turned on the light, however, they found that it wasn't Pema.

"Asami?" Korra asked, stunned. "What on earth are you doing here?"

Asami started, putting down the teacup she had been holding and pushing herself to her feet.

"I'm sorry," she said with a quick bow directed at Tenzin. "I came by to see if Korra had made it back safely, and Pema was still up so she invited me in."

"Where is Pema?" he asked.

"She went to bed a little while ago," Asami said. "She wanted to stay up, but she was really tired. I told her I wait up for you two."

Her green eyes flicked over to Korra, and the concern in them was plain as day.

"Thank you, Asami," Tenzin said. "If you'd like, you can stay here for the rest of the evening so you don't have to travel so late."

"I appreciate it." She pushed her hair behind her ear, visibly nervous and worried. "Do either of you need anything?"

"Sleep, I think," Tenzin said candidly. He rested his hand on Korra's shoulder, drawing her attention away from Asami. "I'll let Pema know you're all right."

"Thank you."

"Don't stay up too late."

"We won't."

He left Korra alone in the kitchen with Asami. For a few minutes, Korra didn't look at her.

"Are you here to gloat?" she asked Asami flatly, her voice full of resentment that she didn't completely feel.

"No," Asami said softly, drawing a few steps closer but stopping slightly more than an arm's length away. "I was worried. I came to make sure you were safe."

Korra glanced up. Asami did look worried, and Korra believed her when she said that was her reason for being here. She sighed.

"You were right after all," Korra said miserably, crossing her arms hard and staring down at the toes of her boots. "Amon showed up with his chiblockers and they ambushed me."

"...Did he...?"

"No." She swallowed hard. "I thought he would, but he didn't." She snorted softly at the memory, smiling bitterly. "He said he would, though. Later. Told me he's saving me for last." She laughed softly, kneading her forehead with one fist. "I'm such an idiot. I walked right into a trap. If he had taken my bending away I'd have no one to blame but myself."

Asami closed the distance and wrapped Korra up in a strong hug, one that Korra returned immediately. She thought she was done crying, but at that moment she wanted nothing more than to bury her face in Asami's shoulder and weep all over again.

"This wasn't your fault," Asami said against her hair, rubbing her back soothingly. "Amon doesn't stand a chance against you in a fair fight. He had to ambush you to have any shot of beating you. He's a coward who can't match you."

When Korra didn't answer, Asami pulled back far enough to take her face in her hands and kiss her softly. "You're amazing," she said softly, nuzzling their foreheads together. "You're absolutely amazing, Korra. And you're going to beat him. I know you will."

Overwhelmed, Korra wrapped her arms around Asami's neck and pulled her in for a searing kiss, one that Asami returned with a welcome ferocity. It was with no small amount of reluctance that they separated to go to sleep. Korra gave thought to asking Asami to stay in Korra's room, but just the thought made her flush all the way down to her neck, so she thought better of it. She showed Asami to a spare bedroom on the girl's side and gave her one last kiss goodnight, standing on her toes with her fingers threaded through Asami's hair, before retreating to her own bedroom.

She saw Naga curled up the floor. She thought for a split second that she was asleep, but she lifted her head the second the door opened, tail thumping out a steady rhythm against the floorboards.

"Hey, girl," Korra said softly, settling down on the floor next to her and wrapping her arms around her massive neck. Naga nuzzled her lightly, licking her cheek in concern, and Korra laughed. "I'm all right. Everything's fine now."

She stayed on the floor that night, curled up against Naga's warm fur, arms still draped around her oldest friend, and her sleep was blessedly dreamless for the first time in days.