He remembered it, though vaguely.

Somewhere it had to start, right? Hence, they argued. And she lashed out.

Desperately, seemingly not wanting anything else from the world but to cry out loud for her dire situation.

And so she screamed, and cried, and squirmed in his arms when he found himself pressing her back to him in a frenzied attempt to… Stop this madness?

Cover her from the gawking glances as he lead her away, somewhere anywhere secure?

Hold her close, even closer, tighter meanwhile she fought for air and deliverance.

He suddenly realized she was fragile, all too vulnerable behind this pretentious façade of hers; the façade he secretly adored ever since God knows when; the one he never even dreamt he could see through.

But now as her face was wet with tears and muffled cries all around his chest and the glorious mane of her luscious hair hiding them from the world, Tahno felt just how much he was mistaken about her.

There she was, all frail forms and trembling hands; carefully manicured nails broken and scratching his jacket, as he kept pulling her closer, hiding her, covering her, never letting her go.

Never? Seriously, this word had nearly determined his fate when they told him about never bending again.

And now it was not for him. But for her.

No, she didn't yell for freedom and neither for revenge.

It was pain, simple wailful pain, pure and rough and unbecoming for the likes of Sato heiress; and so distorting her otherwise angelic features that it just screamed wrong for Tahno – for him to see her in a state like this was like the punishment for his own misdeeds…

And like hope for salvation…

He remembered all too well how he was lamenting alone in the dark of his humble abode (no more luxury needed for the non-bender he had become, no more crowds and fake friends' shenanigans to turn on the wild nights) – he was lost to the light and reality.

As if he knew them in that life "before" – but may be, distantly, he felt them?

Lucid and faraway. Forbidden for the likes of him.

.

Oh yes, he remembered - how it was nobody to remain by his side and hold him through this hell, hold tight and demanding obedience while this other imaginary person leads him out back into life again.

He didn't need that life, however – life without bending was a substitute.

But now he was whole again. New. Almost complete?

And she…

Life without that jerk was definitely not a substitute – it was the beginning for her, or so he mused, never quite coming to an understanding of women's chemistry – but how could he ever convince her?

Why in the first did he entertain these thoughts about convincing anybody?

Ah, yeah. The hope.

What could be more preposterous than the once pathetic redeemer coming to her rescue? – but wait, no!

It was his own volition to prove; to appear, to live – now with the powers back and new life welcoming him into its dangerous claws – he could be, he wanted to be – more of a human than a puppet in Fate's hands.

He was presented with the unique and strange and crying chance to make it different.

He had no idea of the pain except for the one whose presence was all too evident in his life for the past few weeks.

But he sure knew how it must be feeling – and despite the vile side she only ever knew about him, he wanted to show her…

To display it in the broad daylight, to bring it out – that very "something more" hidden beneath perversions and masks.

And by no means it could be his fault that it was her to encounter him and fall apart right in front of him.

Oh no, he bore no guilty in this (or so he tried to convince himself, carefully embracing her frailty more into his brawny yet lithe body).

He was just here with her due to another Fate's whimsical trick.

And he could easily turn around and go away and not involve himself with her tears.

Leave her now… Escape. Run away.

Cowardly? Yes.

And he could not afford to be coward anymore.

.

Tears… Tears shimmering in the eyes whose royal shine of pale viridians was meant to bring kings down to their knees; glistening in quiet agony as if it was her most natural reaction to everything that was going on around her.

Actually, it was becoming natural - and fear it as she might – she couldn't do much to stop them from running down her pale sunken cheeks once covered in artificial rouge.

And as his fingers timidly tried to smear those tears away she flinched, surprised.

Her shoulders stooped under night's blessed cold wind; her form all screaming loneliness and despair, - he couldn't bear it seeing her like this.

She was not meant to be upset, ever – it was improper, it was a crime, a sin to even watch her in this state, but he couldn't stop from glaring down that gorgeous woman, these trembling hands in their last attempts to cover herself from his penetrating gaze.

Embarrassed as if she was naked…

Which was too much to think about, especially given their already shameful situation.

.

.

Yet all of her actions ceased as he slowly kneeled down in front of her, hugging her ever so tightly and resting his flushed forehead somewhere under her chest.

.

.

She felt his wild mane of hair in that ticklish (even with so many garments) zone under her breasts and couldn't help but smile through tears– it was so ridiculous, feeling his body all on pleasantly warm and no doubt strong and around her bringing to a stop her despairs. Trying to do so.

She raised her hands to feel the crown of his head, the naughty rigid hairs seemingly turning softer and pliant under her uncertain fingers.

Without the waterbending and all those procedures to keep the epic fringe epic enough to startle crowds; without the antics and snarky remarks and hordes of fangirls (and occasional fanboys) – he was just a man with softest mane; which she found herself tousling playfully and enjoying every moment of his pleased deep growls into her abdomen.

.

As if this was her most habitual action…

As if he meant for her to touch him and enjoyed every bit of their hesitant contact.

.

Yes, actually, he was just a living man who somehow turned out to be in the same place and time with her when she most needed the warmth and heartbeat and ragged breath and gentle touches of someone who was not asking questions and God forbid accusing her of weakness and unbecoming behavior.

She was never allowed to express her emotions if they weren't positive, nor did she have the privilege to care of her heart and the feelings it nursed; let alone mending it afterwards the storm was over.

She was not even supposed to have a heart; to begin with – just a toy to please the mighty of this world; or if you wish, a machine to keep the industries running under her strong grip – but who would it be to grip her instead and keep her from falling apart?

.

They remained like this for considerably long time.

Enough for the light of day to fade away into the moonless nocturne.

Enough for both to get accustomed to this accident of a relation and each other's touches and heartbeats.

.

He was slowly rising from his comfortable kneeled pose, nose into her navel and trailing imponderable kisses along her robe; he was hesitant may be for the first time in his life when it came to women; but somehow he felt it was worth it – the inrush of blood to all the vital parts and the cheeks fiercely blushing (since he never ever did as much as kneeled in front of anyone, it just was not his way in the least!) – blushing in no doubt ugly red spots – thankfully she might not notice them in the pale reflected light of the city that never sleeps and doesn't even need the moon to light its sumptuous features.

Holding her hands, small in his large and strong palms, slowly descending to catch a better look of her face – since she finally stopped crying – he didn't know when it started, the gravity of the attraction to her skin nearly shining; to her hair so dark and luxuriant he wanted to lose himself in the labyrinth of curls and never, never hear me, return to the world of woes and oddities.

- I am not… - he whispered, inhaling her tears that refused to dry, - not going to…

She was silent. And beginning to tremor. Yet straining to hear his every awkward word – he was never well-versed in words when it came to true ones.

False compliments; mockery and gibes? – Please, he was an unsurpassed expert in the field but now…

It just wasn't right to play pretend in front of her when she seemingly trusted him enough to let him hold her and allowed to even see her tears.

He could bet no one in the whole city; meh, in the whole world! – was permitted to share this swarthy state of her being.

And yet, what was it, which he didn't plan on doing… Deceiving her?

Seducing? Maiming with words sharper than fingernails as he usually did before?

He didn't know what it was exactly but he had to prove himself right in front of her; to prove himself worthy; to deserve that right to hold her as he was all but audaciously doing now taking obvious advantage of her broken state.

No, he was not going to cheat on her and so he told her.

.

That look in her eyes – half-expectant, half-cynical – he had to change his ways because without words, she told him how she wouldn't even care if he cheated and turned back into the freak state…

But deeper in the eyes so innocent and pain so sharp without makeup – it was fear that he saw and it startled him.

Fear of being left behind; swindled; used and thrown away for no one's mercy. Once again.

That fear was almost palpable and her tensed fingers piercing into the insides of his palms – they only added the nerve to the silent scene of humid yet cold night air and their hair mingling in its cool winds, touching the flushed skin as if reassuring…

And may be promising something neither of them could yet decipher…

But somehow this felt right, holding her hands and catching her delicate breaths (like she was ashamed to even breathe deep in front of him) – and may be, may be he could let her fears out and away.

He needed to let them out, for her frail being in his arms, all uncertain and doe-like glances and trembles and shame becoming too apparent due to their improbable situation – he didn't want her feel this shame – since he was not the one to be ashamed of, and he was here, his bending back and powerful, and there was absolutely nothing to be worried about, since – well, he was there.

And so he told her.

- I am here. With you.

For you, - he thought and shivered – what was it invading his mind?

.

He was the prized freak, the mocking-bird of century and avowed lady-killer with supposedly no heart and other organs except for one.

Definitely not brains as the public sneered reading about his affairs in tabloid press.

It was fun at first and he liked to pretend for the sake of this imagery, but now…

He had to change that; and in which way than suddenly being in her arms – he had no idea.

No better idea let alone no way out – if he was man enough to see her endure what she did and not even flinch about it – he'd better remain the man to lead her out of this self-created shell of hell.

Since he could, really, could he?

It was a test may be, not to be failed…

.

…But right at the moment it was a just a scared and pained girl with gorgeous looks and bleeding heart – all in his hands – until he made the wrong move enough for these dainty hands to send him to the unconscious.

And then he might never see her again.

Never again. He breathed in her flowing hairs and shuddered – it smelled ridiculously like home. That one, proverbial home which is not a place, but a person.

And again the word "never" haunting him. Something had to be done about its stalking his mind.

The impossibility and craziness of the situation struck him perhaps too hard to realize what he was doing and may be risking all their flimsy truce – but in a split second the rushing blood overpowered the thoughts and he was bending down kissing away her tears, gently probing and admiring her delicate skin, so soft it was practically unbelievable she was real and not the illusion ready to melt right in his iron grasp on her form.

.

Kiss her tender, hiding his own fears in these bold licks and occasional bites – kiss her to heal, and taste these pulpy lips made of pure ecstasy and mend her being with his touch – why not, waterbenders sometimes came out to be healers, and who said invisible wounds couldn't be healed by their prowess?

But it was not only the waterbending Tahno was capable of now.

Asami… Even as her name tasted salty tears and seashore, again the water element all around her being; as she couldn't resist him anymore.

One thing if he was insistent, rough jerk she absolutely knew he was –another one was the man who demurely kneeled down in front of her, and didn't say anything of what she was expecting him to… Nothing of that.

.

The pain was all to distinct and pulsating to let it go.

And here he was persistently promising her something like… Soothing salvation?

It was so unlike him Asami just gave in to the sensation.

.

.

And no, really, no, they didn't intend to.
It was just her lips too responsive and needy, and his unkempt tresses just too tempting to be tugged with all her remaining strength when he was falling right above her somewhere - anywhere - where he could press her to the floor and shield her with that hair and heal her with those hungry kisses and hear her moan under his weight – unexpected yet oh so divine to his ears.

Moan for more? More extensive part of the healing procedure – and obey he did – to her demands expressed with no words but dragging down his clothes that seized the movements and biting on his lips in a fashion so violent he just could not resist neither herself nor the growing temptation to be that impudent saviour of damsels-in-distress.

Saviour… It was an entirely new definition to his ministrations – frenzied, yes, but all too aware of that fear in her eyes; therefore as slow as possible, and fingers as trembling as ever, drops of sweat running down his face and smearing across hers; as his hands were making significant progress in the strange "healing" – unveiling the delicacies he never ever dreamt of seeing let alone touching.

Seeing them perk and tighten under his daring gaze and suffocating from the sheer perfection of her supple body and lascivious movements helping him around, back and forth, beneath and straight into the core.

.

Impossible. Tight. Lecherous yet hesitating.

Panting and pleading with her eyes only, her gaze salacious enough to drop any sort of indecisions – yet her heart still almost palpably broken under these voluptuous breasts craving his smooching attention – and nonetheless her eyes penetrating him with that timeless weight of mental anguish challenging him into acting slowly but tenaciously – to keep her from drowning in her thoughts so obvious onto her lustful yet pained face.

.

For it was not him bringing her into undone now.

No, it was not him now massaging her inner thighs and kissing his way to her core tasting every inch of skin which tasted like broken-down heaven – of salty remorse and spicy craving altogether.

It was not his tongue rolling her sensitive pearl in his oversalivating mouth – it was the damned firebender yearning for her juices; bathing in her liquid feverish center.

The firebender she hated yet still submitted to – and Tahno couldn't stand it anymore.

His fingers probing and caressing, his teeth grazing her features, his embrace tight enough to squeeze that man out of her being – oh please, please, come to your senses, Tahno pleaded.

.

- Come and see me… Me. Not him. – Roughening, fingers pumping faster, breathing more ragged, words difficult to form without primal growls.

- Don't let it bring you down. No more. – A shudder.

And his uncertain whisper – Please. Let it go.

Tears were her response. Anguish and flush.

Nails and whimpers, and overall a sight so painfully unbearable and arousing all the same it drove him mad.

She drove him mad with both her body and her soul so exposed and free for him to taint her.

However it was not him who was currently hurting her.

- Shake it out! Shake it out! – he nearly bawled at her agony, angry with that insolent firebending ghost between them.

There was a pair of viridian eyes fluttering open in utmost surprise to his roar and yes, that very pain he so tried to send away – shimmering accusingly at him.

Tears were shining anew and her features frowning in offence – oh what a fool he was to even raise his voice at her.

Tahno pulled her closer till she couldn't even move in his firm grasp and attempted to whisper in her ear – which was not all that easy given he was now moving inside her, slowly but inevitably charging her with his electrifying warmth and steadiness.

.

- I didn't mean to… Please. - But why was he even apologizing?

She was still haunted by that man and his flaming palms that left scars invisible but very tangible under Tahno's hands – as she squirmed in his grasp moaning for freedom yet holding him so tight it was a big question of who was restraining whom.

.

- It's me. Me! Not him. No! Not him! – Tahno frantically roamed his fingers alongside her back, his lips searching for her face under her overprotective hair, wet from perspiration and clinging to their entwined forms; a dark sticky web of ache and desire – smothering, tying together, reuniting the broken parts.

There she was, face flushed and wet with both sweat and tears – he licked them away, tasting the bitter salt and torment; he kissed her eyelids, cheeks and lips that were craving for air – but instead of air, it was his tongue giving into her wants; drowning in her pain, swallowing it entirely as the best delish he could ever be served.

.

- It's me. Me. Tahno by name, please – he couldn't shout at her anymore.

Only whispers, delirious and barely audible in the rumble of their mixed breathing, whispers pleading for freedom, forgiveness and acknowledgement.

.

- Look at me! – he wanted, honestly, to sound demanding – but it was a plea too desperate to become an order.

Yet look she did, eyes wide open, body tightly pressed into his form, her walls surrounding him with something more than just need.

Something craving for recognition, clenching and cramping above and around and yet so fragile on the outside…

.

- Don't close your eyes. Look. At. Me. Tahno I am. The name. Look. – He managed whispering in sporadic inhalations as the rhythm was growing from steady to rushed and erratic.

Almost uncontrollable, blazing, addictive – he knew it was insufferable to keep eyes open in such state – but for her sake he fought the urge to close them and roar; yes, for her sake he stared right into her soul – failing to hide from his gaze in her shimmering eyes, darkened and ridden with both lust and shame and… Something more than that… Acceptance?

.

Mild, uneven yet so needed – agreement on his presence beside and inside her – the proof, the trust among the thrusts, the redemption one cannot buy and bend from any elements; and white hot throbbing tide of pleasure covering him from head to toes as she timidly whimpered what sounded like his name… Tahno…

.

- Tah…Ah… A…Ah… No…Ou… - Ouch… Tah… - pleading. Addressing him and him only.

No touchy firebenders here, but him.

- Tah… - meaning: "Here". This way. Grip. Embrace. Move.

- No… - meaning: "More". Exquisite. Genuine. Faster.

.

And there he was finally complete and at her ultimate mercy.

At her exhilarating barely audible moans of his name – she was ruling him now.

His moaning queen.

.

Queen with her sinuous legs as prison sentinels around his waist – the prison he was never willing to leave.

The one filled with arousing whimpers chanted like heavenly hymns and shaky hands touching all the right hollows and needy prominences.

The one that screamed home in every rhythmical flow.

Flow just like waterbending – but better.

Palpable, glowing, living flow of limbs and hair and air from inside her lungs – and into his.

Breathe in and out, tighten the grip and heal.

Heal.

.

He wasn't planning onto this damned day turning this way; he honestly didn't – but why would one care of any plans whatsoever when she was coming undone so rapidly under his hasty kisses and licks and bashful bites (since he was perhaps too afraid to maim her pristine skin) – and the distant warm glow was coming near, engulfing them, caressing, calming down the tremors; sending another ones instead – new tremors of culpable delight, and no anguish anymore.

And her lithe body under his – it was reality, definitely not a dream: she was writhing in blinding pleasure and nearly mewling and eliciting other incredible sounds Tahno never imagined his ministrations could provoke in a woman.

But she was no other, no fangirling harlot or hasty no-name one-night stand; he wasn't yet sure of who she really was, but something incredibly unearthly was about everything she was to him right now…

Something smothering and poisoning the air with desire, mad and unstoppable, yet way too frail and defenseless, pure and innocent despite the wanton moves and shrieks he roused in her.

.

The way he moved hovering above her – surrounding her from the whole world as if protecting from the dawn breaking outside, cradling her so small without the pompous garments figure in his large warm arms – whoever was rumouring waterbenders were cold and slimy; and he wasn't even willing to prove them wrong anymore – since she was already receiving his blissful warmth, all of it, completely savouring every bite and thrust and grasp of his frenzied hands; - and thus nothing in the whole world could matter anymore other than her nails viciously rending his back into patches of pale skin and firm muscles, welcoming him to the Heaven he was long before banished from.

.

Welcoming him back into life and sanity – only doubling the sensation as she screamed and bit and cramped and joyous hotness of the liquids burning inside them flowing freely to their own will.

And no waterbending was required here to force the fluids act as they please to make him see white stars flashing down, crashing and dark wet hair embracing them, giving back hope and home.

Home.