Ahh… Here we are, we're at the end. I mean technically I wrote two endings to this already but, this is really it, the last chapter of Anti Reality, I can't believe it took 2 years to get here, I'm all emotional now, thank you so much for the support this story has received and so much for the kind reviews, they've meant the world to me as a writer and helped give me so much confidence in my writing that I never thought I could have before, still working to get better though, always can improve. Thank you all and enjoy the last ending.
It took month, a month and a half of hard physical therapy for Tarrlok to get back to 100% but he'd done it, and Korra had been there the whole way. She never wavered or faltered, not even when Tarrlok wasn't sure he could believe in himself, she stood by him and kept him going. And after that long hard month, Tarrlok was released from the hospital.
"Congrats!" Korra called, a small smile her face as she strolled into the room, a huge array of balloons trailing behind her. She was happy he pulled through, his physical injures were more serious than anyone had expected at first. The doctor told him it would take him about a year to walk again, but Tarrlok pushed himself so hard, put in so much work to walk again, he worked until tears came down his face. When she'd asked him why he was trying so hard, he'd looked her dead in the eye and told her an answer she found hard to believe; he was trying so hard for their future. His answer shook her, but she knew he was being honest. That single answer nearly broke through the wall she'd put up to keep herself from getting hurt again, she nearly thought he really did care about her and the child, but she quickly put the wall back up. She didn't want to place her trust in anyone as blindly as she had with Amon, no matter how much she wanted to hold on to his words and take them to mean she wouldn't be left like she was before… she couldn't. However, she did believe in his determination to get batter, whenever he wanted to quit, she reminded him of the answer he'd given her back then and he would get right back up. Whether she believed in him or not, it didn't matter, she believed in his determination and his interest in taking care of the child, so she stood by that.
For that month they'd done almost everything together, where he was, she was. The staff had asked who she was to be so kind and helpful to Tarrlok while he was struggling, she'd told them she was a friend of the family and left it at that. The look of pity in their eyes as they smiled at her whenever they saw her made her dislike them greatly. She could practically hear them wondering how such a young lady found herself pregnant, seemingly alone and taking care of a friend of the family, Korra chose to largely ignore them, and focused of Tarrlok. She'd help him with rehab, eat meals with him, make small talk of plans for their future, smile when she thought it was appropriate, whatever she thought she needed to do to make sure he wouldn't leave her and this child high and dry. And now he was able again, he could walk, she could only hope she'd done enough to make sure he wouldn't run away now.
"Thank you." Tarrlok smiled opening his arms to her as she entered the room. He saw her hesitate, a frown on her face for a moment, but she slowly walked over to his open arms, letting him wrap his arms around her, but he could feel her tense in his arms, just as she always was was he tried to get close to her since he woke up.
"Ahh, just can't keep your hands off of each other huh?." Tahno called after here as he entered the room, Tarrlok didn't miss that his arm was lazily hanging over Asami's shoulders.
"Haha I guess." Korra laughed awkwardly in Tarrlok's arms, as she looked back at her friends with a forced smile on her face.
Tarrlok smiled his politicians smile, before letting her go, he didn't want to make her uncomfortable. He was glad she had her friends with her, she'd spent everyday helping him with his rehabilitation. The explosion took more of a toll on him than he'd thought, his body was very weak and 4 months of being in a coma took a toll on him too, but she was there the whole time, every single day no matter what, she refused to leave his side, even if he turned her away, she wouldn't leave. If her friends weren't there to help her in ways he couldn't, he was sure she'd have run herself ragged without them.
The second he let her go, Korra retreated back to sit on the bed, her hand resting on her stomach with a blank stare on her face as she looked forward out of the window. Tarrlok sighed as he watched her. Though she was really a driving force in his rehabilitation, when it came to conversation, he found that talking with her was very different now. Her eyes looked hard now rather than bright and lively, she didn't laugh anymore, not from the heart, conversation focused on him getting better and their future, nothing more, nothing less, she was more like a coach than the mother of his child, more like a robot than the Korra he knew and adored. It troubled him. If she didn't like being around him, why would she even bother?
"Uhhhmmmm, were just giving her a ride, we should be going now." Bolin chimed in, picking up on the awkwardness between Tarrlok and Korra. Tarrlok caught the look from Tahno that screamed 'What the hell are you doing wrong?!', before they all left the room.
"Korra," Tarrlok sighed looking over to her, "I'm finally out of the hospital bed and therapy, but I suppose wanting to hold you is too much." He laughed awkwardly. Though she'd been there for him all of this time, he couldn't help but notice her distance with him, she didn't want to be touched by him, she seemed more reserved than he remembered, and though it didn't change how he felt about her, it concerned him.
"We shouldn't be too touchy." Korra sighed looking over to him "The nurses might see, it would be troublesome."
"Right." Tarrlok sighed sadly. They both knew that wasn't her reason, and it wasn't very comforting to hear her say that, when he had something big he wanted to talk about with her, "Korra." he said softly, sitting down on the bed a good distance away from her, "If we're going to do this family thing, it won't be possible in this city you know."
"I thought you might say that... " Korra mumbled looking over at him with irritation. She wasn't really irritated with him, but irritated because she'd thought so too, it just wasn't a reality she wanted to face.
"W-well." he started, he didn't expect her reaction to be so strong right off the bat, "If we are going to raise the child together it would be best to leave town, where people don't know us, or your situation. People here know your face, you're the girl from the explosion and I'm a politician. If we move, we'd just be people, no one would know your age, and after some time we could marry and live a simple kind of life. We can go wherever you chose, money is no object but," He paused trying to gauge her reaction, "And now that I'm out we might want to start thinking about where."
She bit her lip as she looked away from him, he was right, "I understand." her voice came softly, her eyes stung. She wasn't sure why she was crying, it must have been the hormones… But still… the thought of having to leave her friends behind because of all of this, was a bit overwhelming, but she wouldn't tell him that.
"I know." Tarrlok mumbled, this was the most reaction he'd gotten from her all month and he knew instantly why she was making that troubled face, "Your friends are free to visit, but we really can't stay here." He reaching to pat her hand, "I'm sorry Korra…" He meant it, his family had continually uprooted her life, and now he was taking her from his friends because he'd gotten her pregnant… he felt utterly terrible, "You deserve better than this."
"Shut up." She huffed, sliding her hand away.
"You have nothing to be sorry about, honestly, I'm pretty lucky to walk out of that situation with Amon and be alive, much less end up with you as the father of this child!" She yelled looking away from him, he stared at her in shock, "I'm at much at fault for all this happening as you are." She sighed looking at her hands in her lap.
He started to apologize for saying sorry, but he stopped, afraid he might yelled at again. He paused and looked at her a moment, she looked afraid. Of course she was afraid, she was young, she was pregnant, she was being told she'd have to leave the place she knew as home and live with a man that sure she might have liked well enough, but he was way older than her, they'd not even properly dated before all of this happened and he wasn't so convinced she even really wanted to be with him anymore. It really broke his heart, the thought of losing her, but she'd become very cold and who could blame her? She was a free spirit, and this situation, was just stealing her freedom.
They both looked out of the window at two big colorful butterflies and a smaller one flying near the window before he spoke "Korra, there is another option you know." It was the option he'd hoped to avoid, but it was starting to become clear to him, that for her, this might be the most fair option. She went silent as she waited for him to continue.
"I won't try and barge into your life, you know. If you just want to be away from me, anything you need financially, I will take care of it: a house, a nanny, whatever you need. You can stay here and raise the child and I will leave this city if that's what you'd like." they watched as one of the big butterflies floated away, while the one larger one and the small one continued to fly together, "If it's utter freedom you want, when the child is born, I can adopt it and we'll both move away, leaving you free to live your life, but I won't try and pretend that what we had before is still alive. We both know there is a change." The other larger butterfly flew away and the small butterfly remained, floating haphazardly, looking lost for a moment before flying away in an altogether different direction from the last two. Tarrlok turned to face her now and was shocked to see her staring at him, her face angry and covered in tears.
"You think I want to give away the child? You think it's my freedom I want?" She demanded, standing up in a rush. She was insulted, but she knew that wasn't the only reason she was upset. He'd offered to take care of the child no matter what, that was exactly what she wanted, so why was she so angry? "I've been alone for a very long time, Tarrlok, I had no parents and I know how lonely it is to have to figure out your way alone, and you do too!" She yelled, "I'd give every bit of my freedom to make sure that any life I bring into this world doesn't have to feel the same! Don't act like you're the only one who wants to protect this child, you don't know what I'd give to make sure this child doesn't feel abandoned!" She yelled, storming to the door. Tarrlok tailed after her in a hurry.
"W-wait! Korra! Don't go!" he stumbled over the edge of the bed as he tried to follow after her as she flew out of the door. What did she mean 'what she'd give to keep the child safe?' What was she giving up exactly? He managed to snag her by the arm just before she could leave the room.
"What do you want?" She hissed, her eyes cold as she turned to look at him.
"I want you to talk to me." He pleaded, "This past month has been hard for me, but I know that the last 5 months must have been infinitely harder for you, but you're not saying a word. You look like a ghost of yourself, you're going out of your way to keep me at a distance, so I try to give you space, that's why I offered to adopt the child, but you don't want that either! I don't know what to do to even reach out to you, Korra! I'm trying to be helpful, I'm trying to give you what it seems to me you want, but I don't know what it is you want anymore Korra! I won't know anything if you won't just talk to me! You say I don' know what you'd give, but I have no idea what you mean because you won't say anything with any meaning to me!" He yelled grabbing her firmly by the shoulders, but his frustration melted away as he looked down to see tears running down her cheeks, her blue eyes that he'd always seen confidence in gazed up at him unsure and confused.
"I'm giving up myself!" She sobbed, tossing her hands in the air. This was the thing she'd been afraid of all of this time, the reason she'd ben so cold; she still really did care for Tarrlok. She'd fallen in love once with someone she thought was kind, and what did that get her? And now Tarrlok was being so kind about all of this, but him being with her made no sense for him to do, it just made trusting him harder. She'd decided she'd give all of her love to the child, she'd never give her heart to another man again, but Tarrlok had a piece of her heart from before all of this happened, and she couldn't quite seem to get it back no matter how hard she tried. Keeping on her strong face all this time took it's toll on her... The wall she'd worked so hard to keep him away was crumbling, and against her better instinct, she slowly leaned into him.
Tarrlok was taken aback by her sudden outburst of emotion. Was this all she had bottled up inside the last month? The last 5 months? Was this her breaking? The last thing he wanted to do was see her break, he couldn't bear to see her fall to pieces again, so he held her. If he held her, maybe, he could keep her from falling apart. "It's okay Korra." He mumbled into her hair, and he nearly jumped as her arms wrapped around his back and all of the pain that she'd hid behind that cold look in her eyes over the past month, drifted away in her tears.
"I really think you shouldn't have anything to do with me," she mumbled, pulling back now, "it's because I came onto you that night that we're in this situation now, and I was with your brother too! All that I caused was trouble, no wonder he left me! You should do the same you know, I'm just more trouble, I don't want to uproot your life, okay? I don't want to get emotionally invested in this and then you figure it out later, so I'm telling you now it's better for you not to be with me… Please don't give me any illusion of being loved I know now how stupid it is to think it's possible for someone to love me." she sobbed, "I-I just want the child to be taken care of, I just want your word that the child won't have to starve or live on the streets or-"
"Korra…" the disbelief in Tarrlok's voice shocked her, "You really think I'm going to end up like Amon did? We might be brothers, but we are very different people." Korra gathered the guts to look up and see the hurt look on his face and she felt even worse than when she planned to do whatever it took to have him take care of the child, even if it meant using him. It was in his eyes though, Amon's jaded eyes were nothing like Tarrlok's; Tarrlok's eyes were full of life and passion, and promises of good things. He was different.
"I know that." She cried, leaning against him again, "But can you understand how scary this is for me? It's only been a few months since Amon ditched me, if you leave I have no idea how I can afford to give this child a good life, I don't want to end up alone again, Tarrlok, I don't know what I'd do."
So end the end, she was suffering because of how Amon left her… He wasn't shocked, Amon had really made her dependent on him, and when she needed him the most, he'd left her without looking back once. Expecting her to be over that just because Tarrlok offered to fill that void was unrealistic. "I… I didn't realize before that you might have been suffering like this. I suppose I thought when you said you'd never take him back that you were over him, that was… foolish of me." he held her close to him, this was enough for him, her being herself, her being honest, it was nice; holding her was just a bonus. "I think you might have been mistaken that I would leave you and my child for dead on a whim, but; I will not leave you, I will not hurt you, I swear it." He vowed, "We will do what you want, but if you want to raise the child together, we can't do it here. If when we leave you want us to live as friends, we can, I won't touch you, I won't bother you." He paused and waited for her reaction, but from where she stood in his arms he couldn't see her face, he could only feel her breathing steadily in his arms, "If you want to try and rekindle what we had before, we can try, for me, nothing has changed, child or not, I do want to be with you, Korra." He admitted, "You're the only person who could put up with me, so you'd never have to worry about me leaving for someone else, I don't have anything to hide from you anyway." he sighed, he felt her shake in his arms and he jumped, what had he said wrong? Was she crying again? "Korra?"
"You're right," she looked up at him now, her cheeks tinted red, face tear streaked and a big smile on her face, "No other woman would put up with you." he blinked at her for a moment, shocked to see a genuine smile on her face.
"Oh! You come back with a vengeance!" Tarrlok chuckled looking down at her with mock surprise.
"I'm just saying! Remember the day you started crying during therapy because you were upset that your hair was getting messed up?" she smirked looking up at him mischievously.
"Tch! I wasn't really that upset!" Tarrlok insisted, "Your pregnancy hormones were rubbing off on me or something, I thought it was cruel for you to suffer with them alone." He pouted turning his head away from her.
"Riiiight." Korra sang with a laugh. She believed Tarrlok when he said he wouldn't leave her, he wasn't like his brother after all, Tarrlok was always honest and dependable; whether he was being good or bad, you could always depend on him being honest in what he was up to. Perhaps that's why she felt something for him when she was drunk, hell, she'd felt it before that, when he'd saved her ass, time and time again, she'd denied it to herself then because she felt it was dishonest to Amon. Ironically when all Amon did was lie to her about everything and only tell her what he thought she'd want to hear, Tarrlok had always been there, upfront and lighthearted with her, she'd enjoyed her time with him more than her time with Amon actually… And now there was nothing to hold her back.
"Korra?" Tarrlok asked, worried about her sudden silence, she was laughing a moment ago, what was wrong now? Was she second gues- He lost his train of thought as she reached out and pulled him by the neck so that his lips would meet hers. His eyes went wide, that was the last thing he's been expecting, but the soft warmth of her lips against his was more than welcomed.
"I want to try again." She breathed, her eyes shut as she pressed her forehead to his. She heard herself say it, but she wasn't convinced it was really her being brave enough to do it, "Tarrlok, I don't want to live as friends, I want to be a proper family, I want one of those stupid typical families they show on t.v, I want to come home and be happy to be there, I want to come home and see people happy to see me, I want this child to feel loved, I want to be loved, I want to love." the words flew out of her mouth so fast, she was out of breath by the end of the sentence, "I want to be able to fall in love with you." she breathed, opening her eyes to meet his.
He paused, it was a lot to take in, but he knew from her searching gaze he couldn't keep her waiting too long for an answer so he smiled and said merely; "Then let's give us a chance."
"Tarrlooooook!" Korra called through the house, holding a wad of endless energy in her arms, "I need your help, I'm trying to feed Nina, but I can't find the-" Her words hung in the air as Tarrlok came around the corner his face soaking wet and a squealing naked little human scuttled across the hallway behind him with a big smile on his face as he ran, "Uhmm… Can I take that to mean bath time didn't go too well?" Korra smirked taking in Tarrlok's soaked face.
"No, no, bath time went fine, I even got a pretty decent bath." Tarrlok chuckled, drying his face, "If you're looking for the baby food, I moved it to the bottom shelf, left corner, in the fridge." he sighed.
"Thanks." Korra smiled giving him a peck on his damp cheek before hurting to the kitchen to calm the hungry and demanding dictator of time in her arms.
Most of their days were like this over the last 4 years. Tarrlok had more than enough money for twenty mansions stocked away that afforded them an enormous house in a new town, they'd gotten married and the baby; a little girl they'd named Nina, was born shortly after, and they had tons of help taking care of her as Korra's friends moved towns (with Tarrlok's financial help) to be closer to their beloved Korra. They'd gone on their honeymoon, on her friends orders a few months after Nina was born, leaving her friends to take care of the baby, and Korra and Tarrlok some time alone… which resulted in another kid a year later whom they'd named Tarrlok Jr (creative name right?). Their hands now full with two kids, Korra and Tarrlok often found themselves up to their eyeballs in diapers and stuffed animals, but they'd be lying if they said they didn't love this life and their two little bundles of boundless energy.
"Ugh, what a long day…" Korra sighed flopping back in their king sized bed that night. She'd thought to turn on the t.v, but after listening to toddlers cry all night she was sure that both she and Tarrlok could appreciate the silence as their children slept.
"I know, I'm too old for this, I should have had children younger." Tarrlok chuckled, looking at her from the side of his eye.
"Hah!" Korra chortled, turning on her side to face him better, "But no other woman could handle you and I was only going on 18 when we had our first kid." she reminded him.
"Good point, things are fine the way they are."
"Thought so." Korra chuckled scooting closer to him, "Sure you don't want to try for one more though?" She gave him a mischievous little smirk and placed her hand on his chest.
"Korra, I'm tired." he groaned.
"Surely not that tired." she hummed, her lips against his ear.
"W-well, maybe not…that tired." He stammered, turning to face her now.
"Good." She smirked again, before greedily pressing her lips against his throat sending a shiver clean down his spine. If he was tired before, he wasn't now.
He wasn't sure how much time had passed before they were actually going to sleep. He looked over at her sleeping form, a triumphant smile on her face and laughed to himself. This was the same weird homeless kid she'd met in an alley 5 years ago. She always had a way of getting what she wanted from him, even back then; she wanted to embarrass him at the party, she did, she wanted to stay at his place, he'd let her. Marriage had changed nothing; if she wanted a hug, he was there, if she wanted sex, he had no problem providing, if she was sad, he'd be her pillow to cry on, she'd utterly changed him and he had to admit, he was better for it. What Amon had done to Tarrlok's life turned him into a heartless man who only cared about money for a long time, and what Amon had done to Korra nearly turned her into a dishonest person, but he was so glad that she hadn't changed, her presence, the family she'd given him, it changed him, it purified all of the terrible things his past had turned him into, and he'd become a better man.
He leaned over and kissed her forehead, and she leaned into him in her sleep. Times like this he just felt happy to have her there, happy she found it in her heart to try and open up to someone one last time, he was grateful that she gave him her heart, and he'd done everything in his power to keep that heart safe, to keep his family safe, and he'd be dammed if it hadn't paid off. A smile crossed his face as he wrapped his arms around her and held her close.
"I love you."
"Mhmm… I know" she grumbled groggily "I love you too." she smiled and she meant it.
Okay so quick explanation, Korra wasn't able to have kids in Amon's ending because Amon went for the mask and left rather than protecting her, Tarrlok didn't run towards her in that ending, and Tahno wasn't close enough to take her away during the second explosion and that caused her more physical injuries in Amon's ending (Amon just kind of came back for her after). So just to clear that up. Anyways, this is the final chapter of Anti-Reality, I hope you have all enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it, thanks a ton for reading, and all of the lovely reviews I got, as well as the much appreciated constructive criticism, I'm glad to be finished this, but also sad that it's over, but it leaves me free to write new things :)feel free to chose which ending you believe should be the true ending in your mind, I want to leave that open ended to the readers, but other than that, feel free to check out some of my other stories and Bye thanks for reading :)