won the battle, lost the war
When she was very young, Asami's mother had spun tales for her. Tales of princesses locked in towers, tales of courage, tales of good vs. evil, tales where the hero always prevails.
It wasn't until much later that she learned the real world wasn't so black and white, that there were different sorts of good and evil. Evil didn't always take shape in the form of a beast, good wasn't always wrapped in a beautiful heroine.
In real life, Asami finds, the monsters always win.
And heroes...well, there's no such thing as a hero.
It's a harsh reality, she thinks.
Chi-blockers lie in the rubble around her, burn marks from her glove scorched into their skin. She's sitting on the ground, gloved hand cradled in her lap. She's tired. Just...so tired.
There are people around her, torn up, bloody, bruised, limping. They've lost the battle, truly. Amon might have been carted away in an iron box by the few remaining Metalbenders, but they had still lost in every sense of the word.
She thinks of Lin, who had fought the chi-blockers with all she had, bending-less. She thinks of Korra, a little girl lost in a big world. She thinks of Tenzin, fearing for his wife and children. She thinks of Mako and Bolin, parent-less. She thinks of herself, loving father turned worst enemy.
Oh, yes. In the end, the monsters always win.
But perhaps, she muses, watching General Iroh standing above the battlefield, battered and bruised and tired, but standing tall all the same, she's wrong and heroes really do exist.
It had gone something like this:
She's ducking and weaving, praying the chi-blocker won't land a hit on her. The blocker grimaces, kicks his foot out, and knocks her legs out from under her. She crashes to the ground with a yelp.
The chi-blocker advances on her, and before she has time to scream for Mako, for Bolin, for Korra, his hand is raised, ready to deliver a killing blow.
A wall of fire engulfs the chi-blocker and his screams fill the air as he burns. Arms lift her up, and she falls back against a strong chest. Mako? she wonders, turning.
It's the General, who had stolen into Republic City in the nick of time, turning the tide of the war into their favor. His hands are warm against her arms, and his golden eyes peer down at her with interest.
"You saved me." she breathes, completely captivated by his commanding presence.
His lips twitch, and then he's dropping his hands from her arms, aiming a fire blast at an Equalist who's gotten to close for comfort. "It was my pleasure." he tells her, before he's whisked away, lost in the battle once more.
And she'd never gotten the chance to properly thank him.
Asami stands slowly, casts a glance around, finds that her friends are occupied. Bolin, moving rocks out of his way. Mako, worrying over Korra. The General is giving out orders, already starting the clean up of the city. She can hear his smooth rasp over the thin drumming of voices around her.
His eyes meet hers once more, and the space beside him is so incredibly empty that she thinks she might like to fill it.
She limps towards him, ready to thank her hero.