She's in the kitchen, staring at the loaf of bread in front of her and willing it to become eggs-and-toast on its own – she wonders whether using her bending to toast her breakfast counts as efficient or lazy – and trying to will her thoughts into some semblance of order: mornings are evil. It's been her stance ever since she was a little girl, and it certainly hasn't gotten better lately. Korra dreams: she dreams of airbending, of waterbending, of Naga; she has nightmares about Amon – still; always – she dreams of the tournament, of their car flaring around corners in Republic City, of running through the snow. Some nights she dreams of Aang, of Roku, of Kyoshi – she dreams them so hard it almost hurts when she awakens, because she can't tell whether they're visions or messages or just her overactive and exhausted mind producing what she wants to see. Her dreams and nightmares intertwine so that even sleep leaves her feeling exhausted: and thus the Avatar stares groggily at Pema's spread and wonders which element she could use to invent bread-bending.
She hears robes rustling behind her and thinks, oh good, either Pema or Tenzin, they can cook.
"Korra," Tenzin says, and it's his serious voice.
She turns around. The shadows under Tenzin's eyes are even deeper, smudges of exhaustion in the morning sun; Korra recognizes a fellow exhausted spirit. Then, it occurs to her that she's being unfair and selfish: Tenzin has the weight of Republic City and its council on his shoulders, and a new baby. All she has are dreams (and nightmares), and both come with a night of sleep attached. She straightens her shoulders and tries to look moderately awake, for him.
It doesn't work; Tenzin's mouth melts into a brief wry smile. "Yes, I know it's early," he admits, like a fellow conspirator. "But there is a visitor here who wants to speak to us both."
"Us? Both?" Korra gives up her idle thoughts of breakfastbending and grabs a slice of bread to stuff dramatically into her mouth. "Why me?"
"We'll see," is all Tenzin says. He waits for her to swallow, and straighten her clothes a little, and then she follows him into the atrium of the Air Temple.
There's a woman waiting for them. Older – a little younger than Lin Beifong, maybe – and wearing grey and black and white, not in any of the traditional national styles either. Her skin's dark like Pema's coffee; her hair's wrapped about her head like a silky ribbon. Something about her movement hints at a trained fighter – but not necessarily a bender; Korra notes that her bow of greeting is clean and precise and almost military.
"Thank you for meeting with me on such short notice, Councilman Tenzin." Her voice is crisp, clipped, and incredibly confident. "Avatar Korra. It's an honor to meet you."
Korra presses her fist into her palm and bows, waiting politely. If this lady was just another Avatar fangirl, the White Lotus sentries wouldn't have let her through to the Air Temple. She can tell by Tenzin's face that there's a story to be told here.
"My name is Leja," she says. "I am an Equalist. But I am here first and foremost to thank you, Avatar Korra, for dealing with Amon. His war was not what many of us had hoped for, and by revealing his lies and removing him from the movement, you have brought peace to our city. Many of us thank you and honor you for this."
"It was my pleasure," Korra says, a little too honestly; Tenzin's eyelids flutter in something that might have been an eyeroll in private.
"I'm sure you're wondering why I am here," Leja continues, and she shifts a little until she's standing a little more casually; it's similar to parade rest. "I know the hour is early. But I wanted to reach you both as soon as I could, so that you are well-informed." She stops, and her eyes flick between Tenzin and Korra for a few seconds.
"I am the new leader of the Equalists," Leja says.
"The new – now hold on just a minute," Korra bursts out, unable to help herself; she does stop her hands from coming up into a fighting stance, but just barely. Her stomach feels like rocks and acid. "So, what is this visit, 'thanks for getting Amon out of the way so that I could take over'? How can you come in here and thank me like you're not just going to get right back up and fight me again?"
"Korra," Tenzin says.
It's all he needs to say. The look he gives her is so weary – and she suddenly realizes that Tenzin has been expecting something like this. It's written in the shadows under his eyes, the tension across his forehead. Tenzin has been waiting for something like this to happen, and that worried look in his eyebrows is somehow tempered with relief that it finally has.
Leja is watching, waiting, cool and reserved.
"I…" Korra swallows, stumbles over the words. "I'm sorry. But my feelings about Amon and the Equalists are pretty strong. What Amon did to people was wrong, and I'm not about to sit back and let that happen again."
Leja nods, and something like a small smile cracks her lips; it's as strict and distant as the rest of her, but it's there. "Avatar Korra," she says, "if I may explain."
Korra nods, slow, and there's a cold tension crawling across her skin that she tries to avoid.
"Amon's actions were abhorrent, his deception was unforgivable, and the war he brought into our homes inexcusably devastating. Many of us who call ourselves Equalists deeply regret these things, and in this case, our thanks to you is absolute."
"Well, I agree with you so far," Korra mutters under her breath, and Leja's lips twitch again for a moment.
"Many people in Republic City believed in the Equalist message, even if in the end we reject Amon's methods in dealing with it," Leja continues, and now, her voice is almost kind, behind all of the steel. " Amon himself may have been a fraud, but there were many Equalists who did not follow for Amon. They followed for themselves, and for their families, and for Republic City. Do you truly think the movement would ever have gotten as far as it did, as big as it did, had there not been any truth to its statements?"
She's waiting for an answer, and Korra says, almost reluctantly, "Well, probably not."
"Those of us who still believe in the Equalist philosophy – equality between benders and nonbenders – have come together in the wake of this destruction. We want to be a part of the path forward. Republic City is not yet in balance. I believe it will take all of us – benders, nonbenders, alongside the Avatar – to bring this city back to where it needs to be."
Korra can see how Leja was chosen as the leader; she's an excellent speaker. She wonders how Leja fights; if she can chi-block, if she uses a sword, or another weapon, or if she fights bare-handed. She wonders whether Leja ever fought with an Equalist glove, whether she ever manned an Equalist mecha. She wonders if Leja has trained with firebenders, earthbenders, waterbenders; how she would fare against an airbender.
When it's evident that Leja has paused and is waiting for feedback, Korra glances at Tenzin. His face is tight and he's apparently waiting for her, too. "So," Korra says carefully, "what do you want?"
Leja's nod is brisk, approving. "First, we want peace," she says. "We want to be upfront and loud on this point. We want peace in our city. We are committed to seeing an end to the fighting, and we want to work to get there with words and deeds, not with weapons." Korra returns a nod, and Leja continues. "Our second request is that we nonbenders are recognized in our city as a part of it, and represented at all levels. We want a seat on the Republic City council."
Korra blinks. You can have mine is her initial reaction, because who wants to sit on that stuffy old council anyway, but luckily before the thought escapes out her mouth, Tenzin has spoken.
"Nonbenders have been represented in the council before." He frowns. "Hiro of the Earth Kingdom is a nonbender. My Uncle Sokka, the first Water Tribe representative, was a nonbender. The council is not limited to benders only."
"True," says Leja, "but representatives of each kingdom need to think about what's best for all of their people – many of whom are benders. The nations themselves are defined by their gifts of bending. The Equalists want a representative from their home, from Republic City itself, to represent the nonbenders who came here in search of equality."
"So… you'll be on the council." Korra raises an eyebrow.
Leja turns to look at her and smiles; it's the first true smile she's offered all day and Korra can't tell whether or not it's a kind one. "Not me," she says. "I believe in separation of power. I'm not in this to be in charge, to grab at power and take control. I truly want equality in Republic City."
Well, you're better than Tarrlok, at least, Korra can't help but think, and is glad she doesn't say that aloud either.
"These aren't demands," Leja says, and now her smile definitely has points: the smile says, yet. "These are requests that we are hoping the Avatar and the Council will see fit to honor in a gesture of good faith and balance."
"Balance," Korra murmurs, as if the word is a key and something is unlocking in her heart.
Beside her, Tenzin bows. "The Council has not yet been able to officially meet since Amon's attack. A few of the council members were attacked themselves, and we all believed their recovery to be the highest priority."
"Of course," Leja says, sounding genuinely concerned. "I hope my coming here puts no pressure on you and yours, or on those who have suffered. My only desire was to talk to you in person, as soon as I could, before rumors began to spread and the fighting broke out once again." She raises one hand, as if she's taking some kind of vow. "The Equalists stand behind their word for peace. But we need your help to keep it." It's a challenge and a threat and a promise, words on the edge of a knife: this entire meeting could fall either way.
Korra looks her dead-on. Leja's eyes are a warm brown, cinnamon-russet. They're cool and unshaken and almost unblinking; her gaze is strong but not aggressive, confident but not forceful. It's a gaze that could almost knock you flat with the undeniable truth of it, a certainty full of poise and calculation. Korra looks back at her, trying to instill in her own eyes how conflicted she feels about all of this.
She wants to trust Leja, wants to listen to these words, wants to be fair – but Amon's thumb on her forehead still burns like a brand in her nightmares and dreams; the heat of it stands between her and anything the Equalists want to say, right now, and she somehow cannot let anyone forget the death and destruction this movement walked hand-in-hand with, despite Leja's pretty words and firm belief. Korra inhales, exhales – and reaches for it before she consciously realizes: aligns the earth in her bones and the water in her blood and the fire bursting out of her heart, and there it is: the Avatar State. She doesn't summon it, but she feels it hovering around her, like a mantle, and its return is like a breath of fresh air. The relief she feels surprises her.
She takes a breath to speak, and it chokes in her throat, sputtering to life: the Avatar State fades, although she can still feel the power humming behind her eyes.
"Avatar Aang founded this city as a vision of peace and prosperity," Korra says, and it's hard to find the words that will say what she wants to say. "Republic City was his dream. My dream… I'm the Avatar now, and I want to get this city back into balance more than anyone... to honor my own legacy."
The words are all on the tip of her tongue and she's trying to swallow them all and make new ones: don't mess with me. You touch my friends, and you'll regret it. I want peace, but I'm not forgetting for one moment what you all did. It comes back to her, a whirlwind of sacrifices: Asami staring down her father, Bolin bound and kneeling on stage, Lin wearing cotton instead of armor, Amon's mask over Avatar Aang's statue: you were part of that, the echoes say in her head. You stood by and allowed this to happen, for your cause, and that isn't balance, either.
Leja is watching her.
Korra breathes out. It feels a little like defeat, but it isn't, because the Avatar State is hovering around her, humming in her veins: she can feel it, warmth at her temples, tingles at her fingertips. Something she's doing right now has the support of all of her past lives. "All I want," she says, "is for all of us to work together." And she finds she means it.
Tenzin is watching her, and she sees him nod, and smile, just a little.
She shouldn't be surprised to see him sitting there. It's the same little ledge she'd come to so many times before, to be alone; it's the same ledge where they all talked, told her she wasn't alone, had made up the name Team Avatar. It had been her spot and now apparently it's theirs, and now it fills her with a little thrill and a little sinking feeling, at the same time, like a glider dipping through the air.
Mako turns as he hears her footsteps. He smiles and her lips curl up, almost involuntarily, as if she can't contain this nervous sort of joy at seeing him. "Hey," she says.
He shifts over and she sits down beside him. From this vantage point she can look out over the water. The stone behind her is still cool against the warm sun as she leans back against it. "I was hoping to catch you this morning, but Pema said you and Tenzin had a visitor," he says. "I wasn't sure where you would be, so I came out here looking, and just… stayed."
She isn't the only one with a lot on her mind. Sometimes Korra finds it hard to believe; she hasn't actually been in Republic City that long. None of this – all of this; everything that has changed her life up to this point (Mako; Bolin; Asami; Amon; pro-bending matches, driving in cars, learning to airbend, losing her bending) is a tiny speck on the timeline of her life. And of all the Avatar's lives, too, she thinks. She wonders whether any other Avatar ever lost their ability to bend; what any other Avatar would have done in her place. She wonders what the other Avatars dreamed of.
"I was arguing with Tenzin," she says instead, avoiding the subject of Leja's visit for the moment. "I wanted to try the Avatar State again, and see whether I could restore anyone's bending again today, and he said I should rest a bit more." It had been a tense argument, and she'd given in far too soon – Leja's words about the Equalists had shaken her, a little. "I didn't know you were out here."
"Hmm?" Mako smiles at her, and then takes her hand. His fingers lace through hers and it's a point of warmth; her body's suddenly aligned through that point of contact. "So we both came out here alone, and now we're together."
Korra laughs, because he sounds just like Bolin. She leans in and rests her head on his shoulder. For a long moment there's nothing but silence, comfortable and thick.
Korra tries to remember when she started liking Mako. It's hard, because the past few weeks seem to have blown her memories askew, like airbending gone wrong: she remembers their first couple weeks pro-bending, and Mako's stubborn insistence and the way he was always watching her; the way she'd thought it was judgmental, first, until she'd worked harder and harder to impress him, and then she'd seen the light in his eyes a completely different way. Somehow it was just there, underneath all of the bluster and the confusion, the way Mako was always just there. They way he'd been just there throughout the shattered glass and scattered threads of the last few weeks, one stubborn constant at her back.
"What are you thinking about?" Mako asks her.
There are a million different things she could say, a dozen at least that surge unbidden to her lips, but what comes out actually surprises her. "When we were on the boat," she says slowly, "traveling to the Southern Water Tribe. It was the first time in my life I'd been out on the water without being able to bend it. It was… terrifying. Knowing that if something happened to the ship, there wasn't anything I could do to help myself."
She looks down at their joined hands and laughs, a little. "It's stupid, because it isn't like losing my waterbending meant I had suddenly forgotten how to swim. I grew up in the water. Nonbenders aren't helpless. And there were a million other benders right there, on the boat, who could have helped me, too. But I'd always been able to feel it, under the ship, and I couldn't. It was losing myself that bothered me."
Make squeezes her hand, and waits.
"This morning – last night, even – it was really important to me that… Don't laugh," she orders him sternly. "But it was really important that – well."
"Korra," Mako says gently, "I'm not going to laugh."
"It was really important to me for some stupid reason that Tahno knows I'm not just doing this for a laugh," she blurts out. "Or for revenge for the championship or something dumb like that. Tahno's an ass and his team is a bunch of cheating lying scumbags, but that doesn't mean they deserved it and I want them all to know that I'm not doing it on purpose."
"Oh my god," Mako says, and he pulls his hand from hers to wrap his arm around her shoulder, pulling her close against him. "Korra, don't waste another ounce of your time thinking about that slime-"
"As slimy as he is," and now the words are stumbling from her mouth, clumsy and broken, "he doesn't deserve to get on a ship and not be able to feel his waterbending."
"You are the most noble person I have ever met in my life," says Mako, fiercely. "No one in their right mind would think you're doing this to be petty, everybody saw just how scared you looked when it happened. No one's going to blame you."
"I blame me," Korra says, and she's going to cry, so she shuts up and buries her face in Mako's shoulder and breathes. He smells like warmth and dry leaves and his scarf, which has a scent she can only call clean, as if water and detergent linger on it – which is strange, because she's never seen Mako take the scarf off, let alone wash it.
She wants to peel it off of him, to hold it, to wear it, to remove it. She wants to climb in his lap, to fold herself up in his arms, to sink down within that protective wall so no one can see her. She wants to kiss him, and so she does that, at least, turning her face up blindly. Her mouth finds his chin; she kisses there. His cheek; she kisses there. His cheekbone; she kisses there, and Mako's breath catches. His face turns, and his mouth finds hers. It's needy and insistent, but Korra is feeling fairly needy herself, and so she kisses back as if she's parched, as if she still can't feel the water in Yue Bay around them.
Mako's fingers land on her face, like ladyfireflies, tracing her skin. It lights her up like a matchstick, all warm and soft and revealing. She feels like she can't breathe, and she feels like all she's doing is breathing him in; Mako sighs, and his mouth opens beneath hers, and she still needs something more and doesn't know what it is, how to get it.
She pulls back to breathe on her own. Mako's lips come to rest, gently, on her forehead: it burns, right where Amon had pressed his thumb. She pulls back farther, and lifts her hand to cup Mako's face; pushes her fingers back into his hair, and runs her own thumb over the center of Mako's forehead.
"Almost," she murmurs, and Mako's eyes soften.
Korra closes her eyes. This close to Mako, if she concentrates, she can feel the air in his lungs as well as her own: feel the flow of his blood, the beating of his heart, the shape of his body. She could grip his elements in her hands, if she wanted to: bend his blood, touch his bones, steal his air. She brushes her thumb over his forehead again and feels the tingle of energy beneath it; Mako shudders, all the way down to his bones.
"Almost," she says again, and she opens her eyes. She can see the glow, reflected in Mako's eyes, but for some reason it does nothing but make her sad. "You and Bolin, both. Because of me."
"Korra," he says, "we're alright." Slowly, he tugs at her arm until her hand falls; clasps it in both of his; presses her knuckles to his lips.
Korra sighs. She blows the Avatar State from herself like a candle – does it just come when she's feeling emotional? At least I can still find it, she thinks. "Sorry," she says, wryly and a little embarrassed.
"That's alright," Mako says, shyly. "Your eyes are – it's intimidating, but…" He ducks his head a little. "You're beautiful." His hand comes up to rub the back of his neck. "It's weird to think my girlfriend is the Avatar," he admits, although there's a little smile in his voice when he says it.
"Girlfriend," Korra tries. The word is new to her. "It's strange," she confesses, turning her face away a little: but maybe it's time to bring this out of the depths between them. "Because in my head, girlfriend means Asami."
Mako sighs. He brings his knees up and folds his arms over and around them, resting his chin. "Can we," he says slowly – "Look." His voice drops, and he reaches out for her hand again, his thumb tracing across her skin. "I know we need to talk about this," he says. His voice is so soft; she isn't sure she's ever heard Mako like this before, ever. "You and I, and Asami and I, and probably even… well. Everybody needs to talk. And I – it'll happen. I just. I can't do it right now." He squeezes her hand once, and his thumb continues to write trails of fire on the back of her hand. "I had to push everything aside when you went missing, and it got all tangled up, and I need to sort through it all myself first. It's – confusing." And then, wryly, and with more than a little bit of self-deprecation: "I owe it to both of you to have my thoughts clear before I say anything even more stupid than I already have."
"Mako, it's okay." She reaches out with her other hand, wraps it around his. "I trust you."
"I just don't want to talk right now," he says, and he leans in to kiss her again.
There are things she should do, things she could do, all sorts of things on her mind – but somehow, Korra finds herself drifting out to the courtyard at sunset, and moving through her training in a broad orbit as the sun stains the stone around her pink and rose and gold.
She moves through the airbending forms she'd practiced blind for so long, finally feeling the way the air itself moves in her hands: with her hands, with her arms, with her breath: inhaling, exhaling. Each movement is shaped by the breath: the inhales draw energy in, the exhales spread it gently before her. She's certainly not ready to use a glider or play that game with the posts and the ball, but – she can feel her skills developing. Airbending takes a much lighter touch than she's used to – it's more delicate and sensitive than the other elements: much less force and more guidance, and grace. She stretches and bends, and the air moves about her, threads of silk tied to her wrists. It's finally beautiful.
From there it's easy to move into her waterbending circles: air and water move together similarly – she thinks, fleetingly, of Sifu Katara and Avatar Aang – it's just that water gives a little more resistance, carries more weight, requires more push and pull. The motions flow from her easily: water is her home, her first element, and she doesn't use it as much to fight anymore because of what it is: Naga and Mom and Dad and Master Katara and sea prunes, and the cold sharp scent of ice over seawater. She moves without thinking, and this circle becomes harder, faster: it isn't just water, it's shards of ice and the tow of the moon. It's feeling the water in the grass and her own blood in her body. Water's healing and destruction together: push and pull, the gift of moonlight and the curse of bloodbending.
And Korra finally realizes what she's doing when she slams a foot into the ground and moves into an earthbending stance: she's tracing the Avatar Cycle, walking the elements in an order she's followed for lifetimes.
Her earthbending stances are all about balance, more than the others: her hands and feet moving together, then separately, but always acting and counteracting, moving and shoving and counterbalancing. If airbending is a light touch, and guidance, and grace, then earthbending is force itself: determination, and stubborn will. It isn't just moving the rock: it's becoming the rock, convincing stone and earth to move itself. The stances are shifts of weight, rearrangements of limbs, but always finding a new center of balance: being rooted continuously, working with gravity's undeniable strength.
And that feeds into firebending, surprisingly easy: fire is quick where earth is steady, but both require strength of heart and force of will. The firebending poses are complex: an alignment that's more fluid than earthbending but more solid than air, sharper and more fleeting than waterbending's enduring curves. Korra stamps, spins, shouts: Firebending has always been a release for her, each turn and kick flaring bright. If waterbending is a home for her emotions, then firebending is the language with which she speaks them: brief and clear and straightforward, and with blazing intensity.
Korra flips, and spins, and it's easy to slide right back into airbending: a gentle stretch, and then she comes up on one leg into a tree pose. She feels the cycle of it now: each element building on the others, in series, in parallel, in balance. She's breathless and exhilarated: she feels like she could spin through this wheel every day, for years, build on the power and the beauty of it, feed these connections with her living energy. She feels like she has.
"It's interesting," says Avatar Aang, "the way the elements are always the same, but look different to each Avatar."
Korra stumbles out of her tree pose and whirls around, clumsy and embarrassed.
Aang grins at her. "I couldn't resist," he says, and what the hell, is her past self actually being cheeky?
"You can't tease me," Korra says breathlessly; "you are me."
"You are yourself," says Avatar Aang, enigmatic and wise – and then the grin splits his face again and he says, "but oh, you have no idea. I didn't get a whole lot of it in the beginning, but they made up for it once the worst was over for me. Kyoshi is the worst," he adds, helpfully. "She'll burn you until you're laughing through your own tears."
"Great," Korra says, "so I've inherited an audience of embarrassing uncles and aunts," and Aang's smile is beatific and amused.
Korra shifts from one leg to the next. The exhilaration of her practice – her dance – is still burning in her body. "What do you mean, though, about the elements?"
"Here," Aang says. He moves in front of her, brings his hands up; Korra echoes his movements, a thread of excitement igniting up her spine – is she being trained? By other Avatars? Aang circles, his hands moving in a pattern with his feet. It takes her a couple tries but she gets it, eventually, and she and Aang pass the wind between them, a whirling knot of figure-eights weaving between them. It's denser than the moves she's practiced before, more defensive.
"I was an airbender, first," Aang says to her as he sends the air around himself and then back to Korra, "and I wasn't a fighter. I flew, with it. Your air is a strike, a hammer; mine was a conduit."
She doesn't quite get what he means exactly, but it isn't hard to get the gist of it. "Because I'm a thug," she says, sadly, and she tries to get the air to twist over itself. It goes back to Aang clumsy, but he simply takes the stance again and slows his movements so that she can see.
"You're a physical bender," Aang says, "and you live in a physical world. You're stronger than I ever was. And that's how the elements come to you: they lead with their strengths."
"But it isn't enough, it is?" Korra asks, and she lets the air dissipate from her hands, flinging them up in frustration.
Aang stands in front of her. He reaches out to squeeze her shoulder, and it's strange: she knows he isn't real, but his touch is as comforting as Tenzin's. "Did Katara ever tell you about how I learned to earthbend?" His face is pensive, and he's smiling as if there's a joke hidden in the words. "It was awful for me, because earthbending is all about determination and strength. You have to decide what you're going to do, and then do it – there's no room for options, or for failure. You have to commit to each and every move, one hundred percent." The smile grows. "I'm an airbender, and when I was a kid, I'd change my mind three times before I'd even finished the move. Earthbending? It didn't even make sense."
Korra snorts, despite herself, because she's thought the same thing about airbending so many times.
"In order to access the elements, and the Avatar State," Aang says softly, "everything within you has to be aligned and in balance. What Amon did pulled you out of alignment and balance – but it pulled your airbending close enough to your center that you could reach it. I was able to realign you, which is why the Avatar State was so easy for you to find: everything had been balanced for you."
"So what happened?" Korra asks. "Why did I lose it, when Avatar Roku was there?"
"It's hard for your past lives to see what you need." Aang's face is serious now, and a little sad. "You're the Avatar in this life. You need to learn to put yourself in balance, in your own way. We've been trying to help you in our ways, but you need to find your own alignment."
"So… so this has all been you, all along." Korra looks away, as something chokes up in her throat. "It's been you, giving me the Avatar State, rather than me reaching it myself." It tastes bitter, like she's drinking seawater and tears.
"Not entirely," Aang says, and he turns her chin so that she's facing him again. "The first time you called me: that was your doing. The first time, you found the Avatar State: not me, not us. And now—" He gestures around them, to the darkening courtyard. "What you did just now, walking the cycle of the elements – didn't you feel that? You did that, Korra."
"I don't know what to do," she whispers, and it's so much like telling Tenzin all her fears: the last Airbenders, keepers of secrets in the dark.
"Yes, you do," and Aang's voice is kind in the darkness, as his form fades. "Trust yourself."
When Korra opens her eyes, she's back on one leg, in tree pose, her palms pressed together at heart-center. She thinks about it: she can feel the fiery beating of her heart, where her thumbs are pressed, and the rush of her blood; she feels the balance in her bones and the breath in her mouth. Aang's presence lingers, like a dream, and Korra wonders if he was even truly there.