Title: the showdown that was always meant to be [7/?]

Fandom: The Legend of Korra

Summary: Finale AU. Did you seriously swallow every word from the man that kidnapped you days ago?

A/N: Season 1 finale rewrite GO. And rewritten after a certain scene, because up until certain points in the finale, I had hope.

This is in continuity with my fic "Misbegotten Sons" . In case anyone wonders, this is not really in continuity with "all a dream" .

Disclaimer: I own nothing related to the Legend of Korra or Avatar: The Last Airbender.

One of the gang members actually had the nerve to offer him hair ties. Tarrlok simply leveled him with a silent glare. He backed off, veritably running back to the waterbender and earthbender he always stayed close to-but then, they were part of the Triple Threat Triads. It was their modus operandi.

Tarrlok had brushed his hair a little, but he currently, uncharacteristically saw no point in doing much with it. For all his attempts for control and some of them even succeeding, nothing was exactly where he wanted it to be.

###

After bandaging an unconscious Amon's singed chest, Tarrlok had him set up in a nice room at one of the grander hotels. All of Republic City was effectively under his control now, though that could change just as quickly; he had to keep his exit routes open...

All the doors were locked, including the one to the balcony. There was no need to bind Amon's very body, knocked out as he was. Still, lavender incense burned, to keep him unconscious, sleeping.

On the hotel room-slash-gilded cage's balcony, Tarrlok practiced his waterbending. He used it to get himself to the balcony without accessing Amon's room, quickly walking along an ice bridge he'd bent between Amon's room and another one next door.

Tarrlok systematically went through the traditional katas, before adding his own twists to them.

"Pay attention, Brat, this is how a waterbender moves-"

"I'm paying attention-"

"Yeah? Go ahead, show me, do the kata."

Tarrlok swiped too violently-a shard of ice threatened to damage the balcony-

The waterbender quickly twisted his hand and the shard shifted back up, now a flat disc. He saw Amon's reflection in it. Tarrlok sighed, flicking his hand so that the ice melted into water that splashed to the ground and on his boots. He turned back to the balcony's glass door, just watching his brother.

It occurred to Tarrlok that this was the first time in ages he'd seen Amon passed out like this. Not since he was a young adolescent, before they'd gone their separate ways, before that damned Lieu took Amon away, before Amon had been a damned fool, before Tarrlok had-

The memory was distorted. The images were there, but the sound was not. Amon had been small then, younger than Avatar Korra, face wrapped in cloth and dressed as a civilian, not some would-be revolutionary leader. No sound, but Amon and Tarrlok were visibly shouting at each other, arguing, striking at each other, missing, sidestepping. The younger Tarrlok was only a little less lined. He had already taken to wearing his hair in three tails, though they were still growing then, only stretching down half his back. The soundless arguing grew more intense, their battle more frantic.

Amon shouted something, and finally there was a visible snap in Tarrlok's eyes. He brutally twisted his hand, and the adolescent Amon stopped. His brown eyes wide, shocked; Tarrlok's own overtaken by bloodlust. Tarrlok brutally swiped his hand, and sound returned-the sound of Amon's body hitting the wall, his pained shout. It still echoed and echoed in Tarrlok's head. He would never forget that sound.

Amon struggled up, shooting Tarrlok a look of utter betrayal. Tarrlok heard the adolescent's small, hurt, hoarse whisper then, as he could hear it now still, still, it would never leave him either: "There's no Yakone."

His brother had just sounded so disappointed.

Sound in the memory vanished again. Tarrlok's flash of regret was visible on his face, tearing at it. But he put Amon under his bloodbending grip again, his frowning mouth moving soundlessly. But Tarrlok remembered-he remembered apologizing to Amon for hurting him. Promised he would make the bloodbending grip gentler. But he had to bring him home, he had to. It was for the adolescent's own good.

The memory shook violently when sound briefly returned again: the thud of Lieu's nonelectrified kali stick against his skull. Vision swayed as the younger Tarrlok fell, the black eating away at the edges. Down on the floor and struggling to get up, he saw Lieu help his brother up, and their fading boots, fading away as Tarrlok lost consciousness.

And after that, Tarrlok never faced Amon again, not until he bore that white mask and his voice no longer cracked and his shoulders were broader, fully mature.

Tarrlok was driven further back to the present when he saw Amon grimace in his sleep despite the scars. The older man tensed. No, he couldn't have Amon waking up, despite the security...

Tarrlok unclocked the balcony door, entered, and again locked it behind him. He bent water around his hand, already glowing slightly as it became a catalyst for helping the human body. Kneeling carefully down at Amon's side, Tarrlok brushed back his dark unkempt hair, felt his forehead-yes, it was warm.

The ex-councilman placed his hand covered in water over Amon's face, the scars.

There was only so much waterbending healing could do when applied to soothe restless sleep and mental distress, but it still had its effect, which was actually amplified in Amon's case. It should cool him down.

An adolescent Tarrlok made a furious waspbeeline for the brat's room again. Sure, it had been a while since Amon had woken him up with his screaming nightmares-but that only lured Tarrlok into a false sense of security, he'd gotten used to having his sleep returned to him, and now the brat was starting up again-

When Tarrlok slipped into Amon's room, he stared. The child was only whimpering in his sleep now. But he didn't look so different from the times he had fever before. Knowing the kid's face wasn't just horribly scarred, but denied of sweat glands to regulate his temperature, Tarrlok crouched down, and felt Amon's forehead. He frowned; yes, it was burning up. Apparently this nightmare was a feverish treacherous thing, even making the boy's temperature spiral out of control.

Tarrlok left to fetch water.

Returning, he crouched back down by Amon's side, and bent the water around his hand and placed it glowing and soothing against the boy's head. Maybe this would help. Amon whimpered still, but the child seemed to eventually calm under the waterbending, and when Tarrlok checked his temperature again, it was lower.

The adolescent kept tending to the boy's temperature until it was even lower.

Grown Amon was taking longer to soothe. At least Tarrlok was cognizant of the fact that Amon now had more to be in distress over.

Amon moved as if to turn over, but Tarrlok held him in place, while he tried to cool him down. Slowly, slowly the temperature lowered and the younger man grimaced less.

Tarrlok glanced at the clock on the dresser. Enough time had passed.

Tarrlok bent the water back into the waterskin he'd taken to carrying during the takeover, and opened the dresser drawer, pulling out a syringe. He injected Amon with the equivalent dose to knock out gas, similar to the pilfered Equalist canister used to subdue Amon in the cave before. If Tarrlok's timing was right, his brother should be knocked out until the right moment, when he should be absolutely conscious...and even if it was off slightly, Tarrlok could rouse him awake with a little bloodbending...

Tarrlok ran his hand through Amon's dark hair one more time. So unkempt. Either wrapped in cloth or under a hood or pinned by a mask, it was always kept messily confined. Tarrlok remembered sitting Amon down when he was a boy and trying to brush his hair. The child would fidget unless he was given something to scribble on. Tarrlok remembered Amon seemed to like it best when he could chop it all off, something Tarrlok had always disliked. The firebender had struck Amon's face, not his entire head, at least most of his hair was spared; that, at least, could be made appealing, normal, unravaged...

The older man stiffly stood up, frowning at his sleeping brother. Tarrlok kept feeling...regret. Even over what he had planned for tomorrow morning. Tarrlok wasn't about to stop his plan, but he did...he did regret how this would hurt Amon. Even if that was part of the plan.

The plan was plagued by other emotions-fuelled by it, actually. Tarrlok's patience was at an end. He wanted Amon to pay in some way for being a contributing factor in Tarrlok's failure to take Republic City from within its rotten system. Him, and that half-baked Avatar. Then push his brother into finally killing the Avatar. After everything, Amon should be emotionally crippled then-unable to stop Tarrlok's agenda ever again. He wouldn't have the heart to. Because otherwise he would, he would, Amon would keep standing in his way, Tarrlok realized that now-he had to find a way to put an end to that, while keeping Amon alive. Actually eliminating his brother was out of the question. Breaking his spirit was preferable to that.

Tarrlok's frown deepened into a scowl. He was going to do this anyway, he did not appreciate having conflicted feelings over it, regret-feelings that weren't going to change the outcome. It was pointless to regret if his mind was to remain unchanged. It was all giving him a headache.

Amon turned over in his sleep. Finally Tarrlok left the room, again locking it up behind him.

A/N: Echo of what Katara did to Jet in season 2 when he was under extreme mental distress and mind control...though I'm still not quite sure what she did exactly. So here's me trying to sorta explain it, while noting it could have a greater effect on Amon given his probable loss of sweat glands. Credit to overlithe for giving me information on the lack of sweat glands, and just medical knowledge on the possible reprecussions of Amon's scarring; and credit to her for brainstorming help. Thanks to plotdesigner for brainstorming too (though for later parts, not this one exactly). And the Triple Threat Triad members Tarrlok spooked at the start are specifically the ones Korra dealt with in the very first episode.