[NORTHERN LIGHTS] part 4
Translation: "Like rain in your eyes."
The air suddenly feels foreign. Looking up and into the distance, he can recognize his surroundings— the slit of Yue's eye in the dark sky, Mo Ce Sea breathing light ripples, Republic City sleeping amidst an amber glow— but it all seems different, more real than ever before, like he was somehow realising the weight of their existence and he felt insignificant in comparison. After all the years of training, all the power he had earned along with the inflated ego of his father's legacy, he amounted to nothing in the end. All humans were small compared to the expansive cosmos, but he didn't even consider himself a grain of sand on this parched land called the world, because even a speck of dirt had a ground in which it could always fall back on, a place to belong and a fundamental purpose. Noatak was empty.
He looks at his hand, catching the sight of blood and moisture glistening on his long fingers. It isn't guilt that settles in, nor disgust at what he had just done. He simply feels vulnerable, weak, since the traces of his brutal actions remind him just how much he isn't in control of his own body and mind when the triggers of his past came to haunt him. Frankly, it scares him. To assume the role of a stoic leader of a revolution, but to be burdened by this volatile reaction, it would cost him severe consequences if his composure slipped even in the least. He has no idea what he would do in such a situation because it was impossible to predict or plan ahead. It would be the key to Amon's downfall.
Her body lies motionless like a broken doll, and a spark ignites in the void known as his heart. Empathy and compassion. Those two concepts never had a place in his cold detached existence, but the sight of her tainted flesh mirrors his fractured psyche and he is compelled to relate with her suffering, as the pain deep within his core persists in the same way that hers throbs physically. In this moment, she was not the all-mighty Avatar, nor was she even Korra, the cheeky Water Tribe brat that ploughed forth without a single hesitation. She was simply a nameless individual, broken, just like him. And for once, he didn't feel alone.
"It really fuckin' hurts."
Even her voice croaks pitifully, and his actions weigh heavily on his conscious. He wants to help, but he only knows of one remedy that fills him with reluctance.
"I'm so stupid," she whispers, lips brushing against the cold ground. "I wanted it. I asked for it. B-but... it's not how I thought it would be..."
She remains passive, still not budging from her awkward position, and he realises that he could not flow to a beat that no longer existed. Flight was neither an option since he finds himself rooted in place, unable to escape, perhaps from the desire of wanting at least one good memory in his string of bitter regrets. It becomes apparent that he is left with only one option: it was the time to take action, to finally fight.
He pulls her lifeless form into his lap, hugging her from behind so that she isn't faced with the look of uncertainty in his eyes. She doesn't fidget or protest from the gentle embrace, but her tensed muscles tell him otherwise; she is obviously uncomfortable and would much rather not be touched, but he perseveres and holds her close.
"I'm sorry," he says, sounding more like a plea than an apology. "I'm the idiot. Forgive me, I beg you."
She remains silent, and he doesn't know how to interpret her hiccupping chest. He assumes that she is too hurt to emit her usual flames— it's really quite disturbing how quiet she is, like she even refuses to breathe in his arms— so he hardens his resolve and succumbs to his last resort.
Physical contact was not required for this type of bending, but his hand meets her belly in a light massage to cover up what he was doing below the surface. Taking a deep breath, his eyes glaze over from the intensity of his mental concentration. He isn't able to repair the ruptured fibers— he can't bring back her virginity— but her muscles immediately relax as he controls the blood in that knotted area, easing the flow and soothing the pain. It wouldn't completely undo the damage, but it was the best that he could offer, and her exhale of relief encourages his spirit. Despite begrudging the method, he had finally done something right, and the reward of her hand resting upon his, squeezing his fingers like a shake of approval, is enough for him to bear the shame.
"I guess non-benders do have special powers," she finally admits, still in a small voice. "The massage you're giving me feels really good. It's making the pain disappear."
It's his turn to stay silent. There wasn't much to be said with the irony of that statement; they had somehow both become the loser of their game.
He slackens his grip over her blood when he feels it circulating soundly, and his fingers knead into the pressure point below her navel to stimulate her nerves, hopefully restoring some of her previous energy. It proves to be somewhat effective as she gains the audacity to kick off her boots and pants, ridding her shackles but leaving her bottom completely bare. She however leans back comfortably into his hard chest, not particularly fazed by her state of undress. He takes that as a sign of partial forgiveness.
"Have you ever resented your power?" he asks.
"What?" She stirs but keeps her gaze on the horizon of Republic City. "Of course not. How can I deny being the Avatar?"
"It's a lot of responsibility to bear at such a young age. Didn't it set you apart from your peers?"
She hesitates for a moment, shoulders a little tense. "Not really. I don't really remember a time where I wasn't the avatar, and sure the training was tough at times, but the love and respect from people around me always helped me through any hardship or doubt."
"Love and respect," he echoes. "Sounds nice."
"I guess I didn't have many friends my age," she says as an afterthought. "But Naga was always there, so it didn't matter."
He snorts, holding back a raucous laugh, and she elbows him in the stomach. "Got a problem?" she hisses dangerously, and he knows not to provoke her further.
"Not at all. I just thought Naga would be a mentor or close relative."
"She's my best friend." There's a finality to her tone that leaves no room for questions or comments. "You wouldn't understand."
"On the contrary, I think I do. Animals are honest creatures, not to mention loyal when you've gained their trust. You're lucky to have Naga. Humans will never be as dependable."
"Yup, you can say that again," she scoffs, and he is quick to notice the implication.
She turns around to finally face him, glaring deeply in his tired eyes. "Why did you do that?"
"How can you not know?! One moment you were treating me like a delicate artefact, the next I was howling in pain and you just continued."
He tries to look away but she cups his cheek and forces him to meet the hurt in her eyes. "It was really scary. How could you do such a thing? Was it on purpose? To get a rise? To take advantage of my inexperience?!"
Tears trail down her beautiful face and he can no longer stay silent. "No," he answers softly. "That's not it."
"So what is it?" She grabs the neck of his shirt, posing as the confident girl she once was. "Tell me, dammit!"
He reaches for her cheek with the intention of drying her tears, but she flinches before he can even make contact. Instead, he bends the droplets away and she looks somewhat surprised by the gesture. His defeated voice rises to speak. "I'm not as strong as one may perceive me to be. I've grown accustomed to wielding this great power, I've trained so hard to control and master it, but it will always remain a heavy burden that requires my full attention.
"Sometimes, I slip. When emotions are too much to bear, the cord holding my sanity snaps in an instant and I forget reality... it just becomes a muddled haze of my thoughts and memories, completely devoid of the feeling of actually being there, in the concrete physical sense. I know I may sound crazy, and you have every reason to run away screaming, calling me a monster, but this crushing weight is just too much to handle at times and, despite your attitude on life, I don't always know how to deal with it."
The comment quirks her lips, but she lets him continue without interruption.
"Looking back, I think I've been so engrossed in my bending that I failed to master this fundamental part being human, of keeping a sound mind. Because deep down, there are a lot of things that confuse me… I don't understand myself at times… which is why I can't provide you an accurate explanation of my actions. But for the sake of simplicity, I definitely got caught up in the intensity of the moment, my composure faltered, and I didn't realise my own strength."
Her hand lets go of the fabric and slides down to rest on his left pectoral; he feels overly conscious of her palm witnessing every frantic beat of his heart. "I know my words can never take back the cruelty, and it's hardly a valid excuse for the violence, but I can assure you that I am sincere when saying this: I'm sorry."
She finally softens completely, shoulders hunched as she releases a deep sigh. "I guess it is my fault for trusting you."
"That's hardly a fault. It's in your nature."
"That may be true for the Avatar, but I usually just trust my gut. I was sceptical of those stupid non-bender ways, so I really should have stuck with my instincts."
His eye twitches. "What I did was certainly deplorable and unforgivable, but it has nothing to do with being able to bend or not."
She chuckles sarcastically. "Wow, you're still defending that side? You're really stubborn."
"So are you."
"No I'm not."
He smirks. "Yes, you are."
A familiar flame crackles in her eyes. "No, I am not."
"Your tenacity is proving my point."
"Ugh, you're so irritating." She takes a stand and he does the same. "I've never met anyone more annoying in my life."
"With polarbear-dogs as my competition, I wouldn't call that a fair win."
She sputters, unable to form a witty response. Instead, she straightens her posture to regain some semblance of confidence, arms akimbo and glaring menacingly. He tries to match her intensity, but his gaze dips lower, and he suddenly realises just how naked she is.
He looks to the sky, trying to divert his attention from those distinct perk buds hardened by the cool air. She seems to notice, as her tone shifts into a playful one. "Something catch your eye?"
"Pardon?" he says, suddenly very fixated on the black expanse.
She leans into him and he stiffens. "What'cha looking at?"
"Is it that interesting?" She presses into him, and another part of him starts to stiffen.
"Oh c'mon, it's not that impressive here in Republic City. It's better in the poles." Her hands meet his waist, fiddling with fabric. "Have you ever been to the Northern Water Tribe?"
He tries to appear unfazed, both at the question and at the fact that she is lifting his tunic, the chill air hitting his lower abs. "A long time ago."
"Their sky is the best," she comments casually, tugging the garment higher until she meets the barrier of his arms. Korra obviously wanted him bare— who was he to deny her humble request— so he complies and discards the rest.
He still keeps his head high, even when she plays with the waistband of his trousers. "What makes it so special over there?" he asks with mild curiosity.
She pulls down his pants, teasing the edges of his wrappings that cover his hard groin. He wonders if she is embarrassed in the least, but her bold touches tell him otherwise. He looks to Yue for guidance.
"I don't usually pay attention to nature or beauty in general, but northern lights really struck me when I was a kid, so I guess it has a special place in my heart." She finds the knot binding his undergarment, and slowly unravels it. "My parents brought me to the Northern Water Tribe to visit my extended family for the first time, and I remember being on the outskirts of the main city...It was night and I started to freak out when I saw these weird things in the sky. I thought they were spirits flying in the air!"
He pictures a miniature Korra, with the same hairstyle, just as brash and loud, pointing at the sky and openly expressing her awe with those same wide blue eyes that are likely inspecting his now-bare hips.
"It was just so mysterious and unsettling... I was scared at first because I couldn't understand what was going on, but after a while, I just thought it was so cool and beautiful. I was completely sucked in... kind of like when I saw you bending for the first time," she shyly confesses, and he responds with a smile.
Northern lights. Despite the memories of his childhood, he doesn't mind being associated with such a phenomenon: a fleeting occurrence, shrouded in mystery and reverence, that could enamour even the young Avatar. It may not be concrete like the earth that supports their feet— one could never hold light in their palm— nor did it particularly have a useful function, but it could inspire, and despite its ephemeral nature, it was something.
He laughs, amused by the hope she inadvertently instills in his growing heart. "You're a real piece of work."
"Of course. I'm the Avatar."
"No, as a person. As a woman." He grabs her in his arms, kissing her neck affectionately.
"So umm... are you going to make it up to me...after what you did?"
"That depends on your mood."
His arousal rubs against her bare body, and he no longer hesitates to coax her back into the 'mood'. She purrs from the soothing touches, but abruptly holds his wrist to stop him from venturing deeper. "Noa, I love where this is going, but it's getting late and I have training tomorrow. I'm really hopeless with airbending, so I should probably...ya know, get some rest for the tough day ahead of me. How about we meet up some other time?"
His smile does not falter, but his eyes twinkle a little sadly. "I'm afraid I'm here for only one night."
"Why? Are you a traveller?"
"Of sorts. I will be fully occupied with... work."
She doesn't question further, probably assuming that he's a sailor or travelling merchant. There's conflict in her eyes, but she presses herself closer to him. "So... I won't ever see you again?"
"The chances are slim." He isn't lying. Amon will upturn her life, but Noatak will forever be buried.
His answer seems to erase all of her inhibitions as she literally jumps at his words. Taking advantage of his bound half-dressed legs, she successfully tackles him to the ground and immediately straddles his waist, leaning in to kiss him full on the mouth. She shoves her tongue into him without regret, expressing all the frustration he had caused her, the lessons she had learned, the pleasures she had experienced, and the sadness of their impending departure.
He breaks away to catch his breath. "W-what about airbending training?"
"I'll deal with it tomorrow." And she clamps her lips onto his once more, apparently favouring his air over the one that surrounds them, the one that she has yet to master. But when it came to him, she was certainly a prodigy, already adept at bending his air.
Despite the intoxication of her lustful tongue, he manages to hold onto a moment of sobriety when his hand reaches for the hairclip of her wolftail. Nostalgia does not flood his conscious— he had enough of those troubling emotions for the night— so he slides it off without further ado, letting the lush strands tumble from the restraint and flow free into his eager fingers. He repeats the action for the remaining two that frame her face, gliding along her jawline with deliberate care, and tucking the wavy locks behind her sensitive ears.
He clutches onto her wrist, his hand travelling up her forearm and descending almost immediately to peel off an armband. She smirks against his lips, and slips the others off, leaving her without a trace of Water Tribe identity, aside from her dark complexion and vivid blue eyes that are currently reduced to slits. He also discards the remainders of his modesty, kicking off his boots and trousers while feeling her hungry leer bore into his skin, which was a bizarre sensation— he had never experienced such a reversal of gender stereotypes.
Rolling against the rugged ground, pebbles and dirt sticking to their slick surface, their bodies clash into one another as they fight for the dominant top position; she tingles in anticipation at every brush of his arousal against her moistening flesh, and he accentuates the feeling by nipping at her sensitive spots until she moans wantonly. But this time, he refuses her to be harmed even in the least, so when he notices the increasing scrapes on her flawless skin, he puts their lust on hold.
"We can't do it here," he whispers.
"Noa," she thunders, tone absolutely murderous. "Don't give me more bullshit."
He rushes to explain, not wanting to upset her mood. "The pavement is abrasive for your skin."
"And, I don't care—
"Let's do it on the water," he proposes, already lifting her up.
"On the water?"
"That's ridiculous," she barks out, but doesn't stop him from guiding her towards the cliffside. "I know I'm the Avatar and I'm really good at bending, but... doing it while keeping the water stable...not sure if that concentration is even possible."
"I can handle it, there's no need to worry."
She snorts derisively, looking at him sceptically. "Yeah, right."
"Are you underestimating me again?"
"No, not at all. Just, you know, I don't want you to lose it like last time, and then we drown."
He takes that as a challenge. "You cannot drown a waterbender."
"Well, at the height of pleasure, you might go unconscious."
"If that were the case, your instincts will kick in. You will not drown." He pulls her close when they reach the edge by the water. "And why would I go unconscious?"
"Cuz I'll be that good."
"Got that right."
He pecks her quickly on the lips, which catches her off guard since she blushes from the affection. "Okay, so if I lose control from the intensity of your divine Avatar powers, I will freeze the surface into a solid patch. Deal?"
She looks down at the calm ripples, then up to the excitement in his eyes. "I can't believe we're doing this..."
"Shame you can't airbend. Imagine the possibilities."
The cool cushion of the sea sways lightly and her body floats to its subtle movement, never sinking, not even when he presses against her with a slow drag of his tongue along the sharp line of her abs, right down to the coast of her wet folds. He grasps the soft flesh of her inner thighs to guide her legs wider apart, then trails a finger back to the precarious edge, skimming the surface with his rough pad like testing the waters before dipping further below. Her hips fidget uncomfortably at the contact, perhaps from the reminder of when his fingers last delved into her, so he pulls back and instead rests his palm over her knee. Clutching onto the sturdy bone for support, he leans into the damp shag that tickles his nose, inhaling the scent of sex and desire as he takes a final deep breath. His tongue dives in to explore her depths.
Each moan that escapes her parched throat fills him with utmost satisfaction, despite the ache starting to form in his neck along with feeling light-headed from the lack of oxygen. The arousal drowns him, and amidst the thrashing madness of her pleasured body, his own selfish needs begin to sprout, especially when she thrusts her pelvis in suggestive ways. His groin grows desperate to match those movements, so he finally breaks away from the open sea, ignoring her groan of disapproval and the fingers that claw into his scalp to push him back down. He cuffs her wrist with a tendril of bended water and pins it to her side; his mouth travels up to her chest, leaving behind a trail of light kisses. Panting against her hot skin, he listens to the rapid tempo of her heart that beats in tandem with his own.
"That's it?" she asks.
"What do you think?" He brushes his erection over her slick folds, and watches the bright blue of her eyes disappear behind her lids. Amused by her reaction, he continues to tease the surface, rubbing against her clit and enjoying every twinge of expression gracing her features.
Her free hand rakes into his hair, grabs a fistful, and viciously tugs until his ear meets her lips. "Do it," she commands, grinding into him and leaving no room for open interpretation.
He doesn't need to be told. Sneaking another whip of bended water to break her grip, he turns to face her, nose to nose, resting his forehead onto hers and staring deeply in her eyes now wide open. Her brows twitch slightly as he begins to push into her, and although the barrier had already been broken, Korra's inexperienced body was still offering resistance, which really doesn't come as a surprise, considering the relentless tenacity she had demonstrated one too many times throughout the night. If she was feeling any discomfort from the tight squeeze, it did not show in her unwavering gaze, but the clutch of her nails digging into his back certainly indicated otherwise, so he slows down his already gentlemanly pace and lifts a leg to further ease the entrance. Staring at his own reflection in the glassy blue mirrors, he counts her eyelashes at every fraction of distance that he breaches.
The moment, in reality lasting only a few seconds, stretches like the expansive sea that surrounds their joining bodies. It is impossible to record every ripple of water, just like he can never count every raised hair on her delicate skin that he soothes with gentle strokes. But the sea will eventually meet its end when the waves hit a border of land. Somewhere between the numbers nineteen and twenty-three, with a blink of an eye that throws off his count, he reaches it. Her limit. Because although the Avatar transcends lifetimes, Korra is foremost human, bound by finite existence. And he touches the point in which she goes no further.
He would have liked to give her more time to adjust to the feeling of wholeness, but the warmth of her tight walls urges him to let his body ride its natural course. Like the waves climbing up shore and meeting their end, he recedes, upturning the sand as he pulls away. Silence lingers amidst their laboured breathing, but when he rams back into her, as deep as he had done prior, she releases a sharp cry that he quickly mutes with a crash of his lips onto hers. His concentration slips and the cuff holding her left wrist melts back into its surroundings; with both hands free, she stakes her claim by drilling her fingers into his sturdy dorsal muscles, attempting to bend his perfect posture.
Even though the dense water is impenetrable, solid enough to support their shifting weight, his most vigorous thrusts chips the surface into rising droplets, reminiscent of the beautiful sight of rain dancing from the ground up. He slams into her and she skids, causing a ricochet of waves that assuredly reach the coast of Republic City. Under the waning darkness, before the crack of dawn, they shake the sea until the pressure can no longer be contained, until his spine curves a fraction off-balance. For a split second, they nearly sink into the cushion now liquid and loose.
The water however freezes, latching onto her ass and setting her in place. Korra's chest rumbles with light chuckles, but he matches the tremors with an increased tempo of his hips, desperate to transform the mocking sound into her pleasured cries. He succeeds. The pace leaves no time to think or even breathe; it suits her personality, since she can only react, thrash and scream. Between the distracting cacophony and the disorientating mist of condensation, from the fire of their bodies to the cracking ice, one coherent word manages to slide pass the chaos.
The name drives him over the edge. With one last wave that bids farewell to their unforgettable ride, he finally releases. His existence may be ephemeral, but there is nothing more real than the liquid that fills her up, like a fragment that he implants into her body, or a memory forever ingrained in her mind.
"Thank you," he whispers, meeting her eyes dazed with satisfaction.
He pulls her into a meaningful kiss, no tongues struggling for dominance, just lips connecting in peace. The ice supporting their weight melts back into the expanse and they let the water swallow them into darkness as they drop below the surface, away from the sun peeking over the horizon. The tale of this one night meets its final breath under the shadows of thick sea salt, as they fall into the comforting deep blue, bodies fully joined within harmony of their native element, lips never parting.
And as the arms of Mo Ce Sea embrace him again after so many months passed, he subconsciously longs for her touch, reliving the sensation of her soft lips in perfect balance with his. He sinks deeper than ever before until the once comforting surroundings feel disconcertingly cold; his lungs falter when her warmth drifts away entirely, leaving him alone in the abyss of nothingness. His eyes open in alarm. Reacting on instinct, unable to control his power, the water—the extension of his body—bends into a massive spiralling tower that propels him above the surface, right into the colourful sky of the setting sun.
Before hearing the ruckus of the public, reality slaps him back into full consciousness with the cool air hitting the bare skin of his face: he is exposed, feeling as naked as that memorable night, and vulnerable as ever. He frantically looks at the crowd below— he knows that he has lost all credibility— but their glares filled with indignation do not pierce his heart like the silent cry that her eyes shout at him.
He always felt immune to her hatred because whenever she looked at him, she saw Amon, just like he only saw her as the Avatar, never uttering her name, and treating her as a mere obstacle in the grand scheme of his meticulous plan. But now that the barrier of their titles has disappeared like her lost bending and his fake scars, she stares at him, only seeing Noatak, while he returns her gaze, seeing nothing but Korra. And how he had hurt her.
A deep frown creases between his brows as guilt settles in with a heavy weight, collapsing the spiralling tower. He is livid at himself and does not have the right to stand in her presence, but despite his feelings for Korra, he escapes for a reason beyond cowardice. There is something more important that he needs to face, to seek forgiveness.
Decades ago, when he stepped up against his father and ran away from home, the blizzard should have killed him. Moments prior, when he was blasted out of that window and fell into the water, he should have drowned. And yet somehow, fate kept him alive. There was only one thing linking him to this world, the only regret that plagued his underlying thoughts, something—or rather, someone— of whom he could never— should never have— run away from.
As he skids on the water, evading violent flames like being chased by the fiery determination of that cheeky girl during their first encounter, he realises that he has been walking on the wrong path all along. She will never understand him, he will be forever hated, and these words may mean nothing to her, but he says them out loud anyways. "Thank you, Korra."
'For what?' she echoes back in his mind.
"For setting me free."
Please excuse me while I go tearbend. It's up to you whether this fic follows canon till the end, but just as a heads-up, I found a prompt on the LJ kink meme (v2.0) that would make an excellent sequel… If anyone guesses which prompt I'm referring to, you win the internet. I have lots more to say, but I'll blab about it some other day over on my tumblr page.
THANK YOU FOR READING! AND BEING UBER PATIENT WITH MY SLOW UPDATES! If you got this far, I hope you enjoyed it. ^_^