A/N: Set during the season finale. What would've happened if Amon really was a non-bender from the Fire Nation who had gifts given to him by a powerful spirit, and how it would've affected his fate. AU
Minutes before one of his biggest rallies, Amon seemed no more anxious than his usual calm exterior. His hands casually intertwined behind his back, he beckoned the Lieutenant closer.
"Are they here?" he asked.
The Lieutenant nodded. "I stationed them on the far right balcony."
"Excellent." He caught a glance as the Tenzin and his children were escorted past them, bound in chains. "And the airbenders? No surprises from them?"
When the Lieutenant looked back, the airbenders were already gone. "You still want to keep the baby with Councilman Tenzin's wife? He could be a bender too."
"Cleansing a baby, although would help the direct cause, wouldn't go over too well with the public, wouldn't you say? The older boy of Tenzin's—you said he could fight?"
The Lieutenant still cringed at the thought of that loss back on Air Temple Island. "Yes, but only as well as a young child can. Wild bending, not much control."
Amon nodded. "Yes, we won't spare the older children." He paused, making sure he'd hit every point. "Tarrlok. Would he have had enough time to drop the bait for the Avatar?"
"I didn't visit Tarrlok thinking he may have still been with them." A pinch of fear crossed the Lieutenant's face, mostly obscured by his uniform.
Amon remained neutral. "Well, if he didn't, we'll simply dispose of him." He smiled at his second-in-command from behind his mask. "Everything is set in motion. The Avatar will never see it coming."
The Lieutenant gave his leader a brief bow before tending to other duties. Amon looked to the large clock hanging behind the stage. Five minutes. Five minutes before he could finally destroy the Avatar for good.
She'd been a good adversary, Amon concluded. Young, impulsive, and ultimately, fearful. Taking her bending, once she was subdued, would be a simple task. He almost felt sorry for the young bender, so sure that she finally had an advantage on him. So sure that today was her day, that she'd take back Republic City. How far would she push the lie Tarrlok was feeding her? She'd proven to be quite stubborn, as well as productive under pressure. His thoughts moved back to that night he took Tarrlok's bending. He could still recall the coursing adrenaline and the bubbling pride once he was cleansed.
He tried to bloodbend me, Amon thought. It was so cute. How naïve Tarrlok had been, as if Amon wouldn't have been able to see through his lies, as if he'd have let Tarrlok put the blame on his movement. As much as he disliked thinking about it, he'd enjoyed seeing Tarrlok's face as the events progressed steadily out of his favor.
Even so, the memory had moments of uncertainty, of pain. It wasn't easy to watch his fellow Equalists writhe on the floor from the councilman's dark power. He could even recall the feeling of the bloodbending: an unsettling sensation, as if his veins were being twisted out of place, as his blood struggled to do its job, leaving him just a bit lightheaded.
Then, his protector stepped in. He could imagine his voice, imagine how he calmed Amon, told him that he was invincible to the abusers' powers. The confidence jarred by the feelings of being bloodbend returned as he kept walking. Within seconds, his foot touched ground, and walking was effortless again.
In those moments when a scared and confused Tarrlok questioned him, he'd felt so self-assured that he'd even cracked a small joke. The solution, Tarrlok. What else would you like me to say? I'm a human, if that helps. I'm not a bender either. He'd smiled bigger than he had in months when Tarrlok was cleansed. Bloodbending was an awful force—even benders thought so—and he, Amon, had taken one of the most powerful bloodbending lines from the world.
He paused from thought. As opposed to the other elements, he was fully aware of its genetic possibilities. Airbending or waterbending could show up again, but if bloodbending such as Tarrlok's reappeared—perhaps he would have to take a life for the revolution. The idea wasn't pleasant, but it could be necessary.
"One minute, Amon," an Equalist told him.
Amon nodded and strode into position. Yes, the young Avatar had matched his men that snowy night, and even Amon himself. Not that it was much of a dapper to Amon; he'd only planned to keep her for a couple days, perhaps try to understand the girl more through personal contact and conversation. Surely she could've realized that their goals were one in the same.
But, alas, that fork in the road was passed, and this plan was foolproof. Stop, he warned himself, Never let yourself get too cocky. He took a deep breath and readjusted his precious mask. He moved his hands behind his back and looked down. Just one more rally, and the Avatar would be out of his hair.
He began the rally as any other, thanking his supporters, illustrating the progression in their movement, and even touching a bit on his past, about why he started this revolution.
"Amon's lying!" he heard far from his stage.
He smiled and looked up to see the Avatar and her firebending friend, both disguised as Equalists. "Don't be worried by the Avatar's appearance, my brothers and sisters. She's our special guest," he said.
"Amon's a fake," the Avatar said one beat before Amon finished his last sentence. "He's really a waterbender named Noatak from the Northern Water Tribe. But worse, he's been using bloodbending to take away people's bending. He's Tarrlok's brother, Yakone's son. His family was never killed by a firebender."
Amon smirked as he grabbed for the straps keeping the mask to his face. "The Avatar seems a bit confused." Amon removed the mask, revealing his face: Fire Nation ethnic features—amber eyes and pale skin—and burn scars that crossed his cheeks, giving a reddish pink color and a wrinkled, dried out appearance. He pushed his black hair out of the way, as if to fully display his past. The Avatar and her friend gasped. "Anything to say, Avatar?"
"You—you're—no, you're a waterbender, a bloodbender. You can't—"
Amon refastened the mask to his face, where he smirked behind the shield. "There's no reason you shouldn't stick around for the events." The Airbenders were brought out, bringing out that spark of determination he'd seen in her eyes many times before. "Tonight, I rid the world of Airbending."
He only managed to catch a few seconds' of the fear on the Airbending children's faces before the Avatar and her friend were on his stage, ready for the attack.
Now came the fun part.
The young benders' attacks both came in the form of fire, as if they were aiding his point established with his face. Fear having left his mind years before, he dodged each attack effortlessly, even able to show his followers his prowess without the all powerful bending they'd grown to fear. The Avatar removed herself from the offensive and worked to free the airbenders. Once Tenzin was free, Amon counted his moves. One dodge; the airbender would've just been working out his strategy. Two dodges; he would've been trying it out, but it was still rusty.
On the third blow, Amon allowed it to knock him off stage. When he collected himself, he made sure that the Avatar would follow him, and scurried offstage.
He could imagine the disappointment for his followers as the airbenders escaped. In truth, out of all the bending disciplines, he tolerated airbending the most. From what he'd seen, airbenders never abused their powers. They were a peaceful people, and legend said that even Avatar Aang had refused to use his bending as an offensive for the beginning chunk of his fight against the Fire Nation.
Of course, he'd be back for them. Eventually.
He met the Avatar at a corner, where she shot a blast of fire at him, large enough to hinder his chase. Still running, he spread his hands out and watched as his protector formed a gap in the fire. Sticking a graceful landing, he kept running, unaware of she'd seen the feat or not.
Allowing the Avatar to pick the location of their final confrontation, he soon found himself walking through a large empty storage room, her hiding place childish. He stepped loudly, making sure her anxiety rose the farther he went.
He took two steps past her table, waited, and kicked over the table. His movement was met by a gust of fire, which he avoided by allowing his off balance from the kick to bring him to the floor. From there, jumping to his feet saved him another blow.
But, as he dodged the Avatar's attack, her friend served him another. Even Amon's reflexes still allowed the fire to singe a bit off the side of his clothing. He surveyed the situation; without his workers to hold down one of them as he cleansed the other, the task at hand proved to be a bit more difficult.
Unsure of his protector's intentions, he played it as if he were alone.
He ran for the Avatar first, evading blows as he'd done with all his victims, and soon enough, the Avatar's uncertainty and fear put her in the position where he could put one hand on her spine and one on her forehead.
She held in a scream as he cleansed her, and slumped forward as they all did. He hoped his protector was pleased with his work. He could still remember him—
An exhilarating pain ripped through his body as he realized the firebender had shot him with lightening. Unlike the gloves or even the Lietenant's kali sticks, he knew how deadly a firebender's lightening could be.
Following only what he'd observed powerful firebenders do over his years, he moved his arms, now pointed at the firebender, and watched as the lightening passed through his body. Disguised by his mask, Amon could feel his protector temporarily possess his body, briefly sharing his wisdom with Amon.
A significant amount of his energy had drained with the brief possession, but Amon sauntered forward to the shocked and injured firebender.
"You are a bender. Maybe not a waterbender, but still a bender," the Avatar's friend accused.
Amon smiled behind his mask. "Not exactly."
He removed the firebender's bending and stood tall, the Avatar finally defeated. Now, what would he be doing with his trophies?
His head whipped to the side as he watched a pile of wood suddenly implode, causing the material to fall as debris. How could that have—?
A gust of wind hit his face.
It was amateur. It couldn't even knock him off his feet for a second.
But it did succeed in knocking his mask off. He watched in horror as the porcelain mask tumbled to the floor and shattered into hundreds of pieces.
Amon suddenly felt lightheaded. It had been his one rule. This mask is our connection. If it breaks, I cannot give you power.
He managed one glance at a proud yet very lost Avatar Korra before he felt himself leave his body. One moment he was standing in a storage room and the next he was inside a dark cave, a familiar malevolent presence surrounding him.
Show no emotion, Amon. You know what he'll do.
He lowered his head, closed his eyes, and opened them to find a black and white mask staring at him, inches from his own face. His heart jumped, but he kept his face neutral.
"I'm a bit disappointed, young one," the spirit said as a shard of Amon's mask appeared in his hands. "I thought you could've lasted longer than this."
"It was a poor mistake. I'm sorry, master," he replied.
Koh's face changed to a Water Tribe woman's. "You were arrogant. You should've taken better care of our mask."
"I'll do better next time."
Koh circled around Amon once, then moved back into his face. "I don't know if there is a next time, young one." His breath stank, and it was almost bad enough to crack Amon's façade. "Making these kinds of connections isn't easy. And, well, if I can't connect with you, your ability to block bending goes. Where would that leave you?"
"The revolution. I can't abandon it. All those helpless people still being oppressed—you have to make a new mask."
Koh's face turned to a blue devilish mask with tusks coming out its bottom lip. "You'd be nothing but a scarred Fire Nation boy without a face without me. I give commands."
Amon swallowed. "I apologize, master. What will you do with me if I can't take away bending?"
Koh turned around. "Do you miss them, Amon? Your family?"
"Which more? Your face or your family?"
"I miss them both."
Koh swayed back and forth. "You were such a good pawn. You did a superb job. I can't help but wonder what brought you down."
Koh's face turned to a young man's face, where he looked inquisitive. "Ah yes, the Avatar after the boy. It was such a shame that I couldn't add the child's face to my collection. The new one—yes. Do you think the spirit realizes that I kept my promise? We met again." He smiled. "Through you." He paused switching to an old man's face. "Are you proud of your accomplishments, young one? You're one step from eliminating bloodbending from the mortal world."
"If I could kill Tarrlok."
He made eyes contact with Amon. "Will you do it? Even after I release you? If I do?"
Amon nodded. "I'm still your servant, Koh."
Koh changed into a curly-tailed blue nose and grinned. "You're weak. You've always been just a little weak. It's a part of being human. I don't blame you, of course. You were a bit scared when you first felt bloodbended. It was tiny, young one. Good for a human. But, I'm a bit curious as well."
Koh slithered away, then returned to Amon, nose to nose, his face still the blue nose. Inside, Amon was shaken, but he kept his face.
"You're right, you know," Koh said, changing back to the black and white Noh mask. "Your revolution has done good for the mortal world. You'll be a hero when you return. You've grown into a masterful tactician. Your father would be proud."
Amon smiled. Just the tiniest curl of his lips, but Koh saw it. As Amon fell woozy from the impact of what he'd done, Koh's mask went from surprised to gleeful.
"Oh, Amon. Oh, my poor young one. That's twice this has happened."
Slowly, the centipede-like creature approached him. "Please Koh, I didn't mean—"
"I already took your face as a child, didn't I? The burned face. I gave you a new one with time, though, didn't I?" Some phantom limb of Koh's reached out and touched his face. "It looks healed now. You almost look like the handsome man you should be." Koh's eyes lit up. "We can swap faces. For all you did for me, it works. It's not like you had much of a face when I found you." Koh chuckled. "Only slight remains of a nose. Blind in one eye, deaf in one ear. Cheek still sinewy from the deep burn. Oh yes, hardly a face. Anything else to say, young one? I fear we won't meet again for many years."
With that, Koh's spirit touched Amon's face and he screamed, the pain like the spirit was literally ripping his face from him. Sometime in the excruciating process, he fell unconscious and was returned to his body.
Still weak and disorientated, he put his hand to his face for support, only to realize that he was touching the charred remains of his cheek. He didn't even need a mirror to know what had happened. He wasn't sure where he was, but he knew the Avatar had moved him.
They hadn't noticed his awakening, and, with the last of the tactical mind he had relied on, he jabbed several chi blocking points and knocked them both out. Had Koh somehow messed with them as well? Did they think he was dead? As a child, after his first meeting with Koh, he woke up in his town's healer where she announced that he'd risen from the dead.
The Avatar had brought some of his mask with her. Despair tried to wash over him as he thought about his powerlessness. What would his followers do if they knew the spirits had severed their connections to him? He would fall as their leader.
He squeezed his eyes shut, unable to bear the idea of his revolution falling because of a broken mask. He'd rather they think him dead than a failure. He glanced at the pieces of his mask and a window at the end of the room. What if his followers saw him as a martyr, having died in a fight with the Avatar? He picked up the mask shards, pulled off all his armor, and stuck them on a couple pieces of loose wood. Tucking the mask into the dummy, he broke the window and threw the wood out into the water below.
Amon pulled his hood over his face as best he could and walked out of the rally arena and found a motorcycle an Equalist had left.
At the closest town, he bought a new mask for when's Koh's "face" disappeared and he would be left expressionless. He'd done a similar process to him as a child, but the face had grown. All it took was one look in a passing river and he saw that he had a flesh wound on his chin that exposed bone, an injury he hadn't sustained as a child.
The motorcycle ran out of fuel, so he switched to public transportation for the remainder of his run, shame rushing over him as he saw people glance at his monstrous face and turn away. He stuck the mask on his face and secured it, but it was nowhere near as comforting as the mask Koh had given him.
Even with his gaze down, he watched as a young girl held a cup of tea. "Mama, it's cold now."
"I'm sorry honey, there's nothing we can do," her mother whispered back.
Non-benders, always at the short end of the stick, always two steps behind the benders. Anger simmered as he realized how cowardly he was being, and how his revolution very well may die with his own "death." People like this would never—
A young man with black hair, amber eyes, and pale skin approached the girl. "I could heat that up if you want."
The girl smiled and handed the firebender the cup. Amon watched as the bender heated the cup until it was letting off a soft steam before handing it back to the girl. "Thanks, mister," the girl said before moving back to her mother.
Amon couldn't take it. He buried his masked face into his arms.
"Where ya going?" the firebender said as he sat next to Amon.
Amon raised his head. "Home. Nowhere."
The firebender raised an eyebrow. "The bullies got you, didn't they? The firebenders who still have the crazy notion that Fire Lord Ozai's reign was for the good." Amon didn't answer. "My mother has a scar that she hides too. Until the Avatar does something about it, guys like you and me ought to stick together." Every instinct Amon had told him to grab the firebender's spine and forehead, but he knew he couldn't. He sighed and put his face back in his arms. "You look tired. When's the last time you had a good night's sleep?"
When I was a kid, Amon thought. "A long time."
The firebender smiled. "You should sleep. I'll make sure no one touches your mask."
Amon wasn't sure why, but he placed his elbow on the armrest, propped his face in his palm, and lulled himself to sleep.
A/N: Thanks everyone for reading! I'd always liked the Koh theory best and thought it really kept Amon in character if his biggest threat was a powerful spirit. Plus, I never really saw him as a hypocrite, and the Noatak identity was compelling, but I felt like Amon and Noatak's stories just didn't mesh well together.