Title: Palindrome
Fandom: Legend of Korra
Spoilers: Up through season 1, episode 9
Characters: Amon and Korra
Pairing: Amorra. Maybe. I mean... if you squint?
Rating: T
And I must borrow every changing shape.
Author's Notes:
FINE. I SHIP IT. OKAY? HAPPY NOW? Like all my ships, a little tongue in cheek, except when totally not. Also my ficcer is rusty and I haven't been on this site in ages and idk what I'm doooooooooinnnnngg.

"while you were sleeping
the time changed,
all your things were rearranged,
your vampire mirrors,
face to face,
they saw forever out into space"
-Elvis Perkins, "While You Were Sleeping"

He looked for her for years without even meaning to. The face of every water tribe child became the Avatar, became his destiny. He must balance the world. They are fated to meet, and when they do, he will take the Avatar out of the equation.


It began with her voice. He hears her voice first. Strong and timid at once, unsure of herself and yet absolutely steadfast in her uncertainty. Earnest and young.

"I'm so happy to be here!"

Words on the radio, marking a border between anonymous and identified. Between symbol, and human. He didn't know what he thought she would be like, but it wasn't that.

That is the first unexpected thing, so tiny and insignificant, and yet perfectly positioned to destabilize him. The first small, insidious crack. A razor thin line, meandering toward collapse.


The mask. He rarely takes it off any more. Almost never. Or is it never, now? It's long past the point where it chafes. There is only numbness now where it rubs against his skin. He fancies it has grown into his face, that he couldn't remove it even if he wanted to.

He sleeps in it. He dreams in it.


She lacks a certain dignity, he finds. What would the Avatar, of all people, be doing in the pro-bending arena? What sort of high-minded—false, but high-minded all the same—ideals could she be serving by playing such a trivial sport? It's almost vulgar. The Avatar shouldn't be playing sports in public.

He listens to her play. It will be useful to know how she fights, he tells himself.


She cannot airbend. He finds this out from one of their own, an acolyte on the temple grounds. The news surprises him, somehow, though he knows she is here to learn airbending. That she cannot make a single puff of air shocks him, fills him with a deep relief, though ultimately it means nothing.


Sleep is beginning to elude him, as the Revolution grows. The eyes of his mask are always open, and he feels, sometimes, that his own are as well. How can he sleep? He is the leader. He embodies the idea, the dream. What use is sleep to the dream of millions?

But he does sleep. He sleeps. He dreams.

In his dreams, the mask grows. It creeps over his throat, down his chest, swallowing his head, pouring over his back.


Before the Revelation, he steals a look at the crowd and smiles beneath his mask.

The mask is always smiling, always smirking. He chose it for that very reason. People believe what their eyes tell them, and a smile of serene confidence mocks those who fear, reassures those who do not.

The crowd is huge, and it thrills him. He could be any of these people: the young man who works in the noodle shop, the street-sweeper, the old man who begs on the street corner, the factory worker, the housewife, the machinist, the teacher—any of them could don a mask and become him.

The thought is dizzying, and he feels the contours of its corollary lurking in the back of his mind.

If he took off his mask, he wonders, could he become any of them?

He feels their power behind him, lifting him up. A man in a mask has a thousand faces, he thinks, and every one is true.


When he realizes she was there, he is uneasy.

But a man in a mask has a thousand faces. He is safe. He is Amon. She will not touch him.


She challenges him. She is bold. He will give her that.

He will bring back-up. Fortune favors the prepared.

He tries to sleep the afternoon before, to rest.

He sleeps. He dreams.

The mask coats his torso, seeps over his shoulders, down his arms, down his legs.


And when at last they come face to face, he feels her fear. It rolls from her in waves, and though she is powerful, she is easy, so easy to break.

Even he doesn't know what he will do as he reaches for her, and to his surprise, his fingers curl, grip her chin.

Her skin is soft against his. Her ancient breath, the breath of every Avatar that has gone before her or will come after her, ghosts against the sensitive valley of his palm.

She is so young. So young. He can't even see the other Avatars in her blue eyes. Only terror lives there. A living god kneels at his feet, and is afraid.

The façade of the idea, the symbol, cracks, crumbles. Bit by bit, her humanity is opening to him, raw and ripe and fragile.


He spares her, for now. It is easy, even though she is a bender.

No, she is the bender. He has to remind himself of this, and it worries him. He has no problems remembering the other benders and their privileges, their oppression. Even if they are ignorant, they are guilty.

But she is so human. It shines through in everything she does. It is easy to forget she is the Avatar. She is nothing like the Avatar he envisioned in his mind.


"You're really going to duel her?" His lieutenant is skeptical of his promise to her.

"Of course," he says. "I administer justice. I do not judge. If there is even one bender worthy, they will not fall to me." He's said these words so many times, it seems like they are true. Or perhaps they are true? The story he tells ties him to his mask, ties him to his purpose. As long as he wears this mask, these things must be true, because they are true for Amon. And he is Amon. Isn't he?

"You cannot fight every bender," his lieutenant warns.

"I know," he replies.

But that does not mean he doesn't want to.


She's just not very good at being the Avatar. Even if they fought, would there be any meaning in his victory? Would it be enough to only neutralize those who use their bending for evil?

No. He cannot doubt his purpose. He cannot crack.

He is unbendable.


And yet, in the arena, he feels sorry for her. She tries so hard and fails anyway. A spirit that dies only to be reborn immediately, and yet who forgets each life each time. He thinks of her wandering from body to body, without rest, always struggling, forever relearning what she already knows.

She must be very tired.


The crackdowns are beginning. He cannot sleep. He cannot remember what is truth and what is not. Is he burned behind the mask, or is he whole? He can't remember, and it doesn't matter. What is truth to a man in a mask?

He is exhausted, but he refuses to cease his pacing, his planning. He is awake and dreaming, or dreaming and awake. He lives the dream of his revolution. What, after all, is the difference between sleeping and waking when his dreams are coming true?


Sleep catches him.

He sleeps. He dreams.

She stands before him in his dream. The mask covers him, fully and completely. There is only the mask. He is fully Amon. He can't even remember if that is his true name or not. But why would a man in a mask lie?

"Let me see you," she whispers to him. Her hands reach out, touch the mask—


He wakes and realizes he forgot he was human, for a moment.


When she is kidnapped, he is disturbed. The world is thrown into disorder. The plan is awry.

The gravity of her unbalances him, and he realizes she has already bent him. The weight of her has pulled him in. The arc of his triumph sways toward her, through her.


He won't confront her. Even after defeating the bloodbender, he cannot. He does not know if he can remain unbendable in the face of her.

So when she breaks through the door, escaping, he sees her. For a moment he cannot react.

Staring into her eyes is like staring into a mirror, except he is a mirror, too, and they reflect each other, back and forth, back and forth, into infinity. A man in a mask has a thousand faces, but she has a thousand faces, too, and a hundred thousand lifetimes, burning through the centuries. She is ancient, and he is new, but both of them refract and reflect. He could be anyone, and so could she.

That she just so happens to be her is merely the indifference of fate. It isn't fair. But nothing is.

She turns and runs, and he runs after her, thinking perhaps, and maybe, and I—

She disappears over the edge of the cliff, and he loses sight of her. Without her in front of him, it is easy to remember himself. To remember Amon. To remember a destiny that waits for him if he can only grab it.


That night, he sleeps. He dreams.

"Let me see you," she whispers to him. Her hands reach out, touch the mask—

(—a man in a mask has a thousand faces, and so does she, but her hands are hers and hers alone—)

—reach through it, reach into him, find his heart—

His hands reach back, and he touches her before he forces himself to wake.


He lays in the dark and stares at the ceiling through the holes in his mask.

She would bend him, if he let her.

He tells himself he'd rather break.