Summary: Written to fill a prompt on ficbending. The prompt was, "There are lots of prompts and fics on Korra marrying Tarrlok for political reasons, but I haven't seen any that show Noatak's feelings on his brother's bride. Not just how this arrangement will affect the Equalist movement, but also on a more personal level. Then Noatak went to check on his little brother's married life and noticed that Tarrlok genuinely loved his wife, and this made Noatak feel bad about his plans involving the Avatar - who is now his sister-in-law. Bonus if Korra was pregnant with Tarrlok's child and when news gets to Amon, he was secretly happy of the fact that he was an uncle now."
Rating: Strong T for potentially disturbing themes.
This also takes place and diverges from canon post-Episode 7, which means that Tarrlok and Korra never have their explosive fight in City Hall.
When Amon first reads about the outbreak of disease in the Southern Water Tribe in the Republic City Times, he smiles.
The Avatar will return to the South Pole as part of the relief effort, of course, for political reasons, as well as the fact that she is actually an extremely talented healer, and they need all the healers they can get. She will be absent for months. Her airbending training will be delayed during that period, and in such a time of stress, he doubts that she will make any spiritual progress while she is fulfilling her duties there. And while she's gone, struggling to cope with the crisis at home, the Equalist cause can make significant progress in Republic City.
Amon sets the newspaper aside and resolves to keep watching the papers for information about her date of departure.
He reads nothing about it for a few days. At the beginning of the next week, he sits down at the tiny, splintering, unsteady kitchen table in his small and dusty apartment, and shakes open the paper as he takes a drink of his tea.
Upon seeing the headline blaring from the front page, Amon actually starts choking. He coughs and hacks and spits tea all over the paper, the liquid blurring the newsprint, before he finally bends the liquid out of his throat and off the paper, back into the cup. He lifts the paper until it's an inch from his nose and reads the headline and the first few paragraphs again, and then he flattens it onto the table and reads them once more. He's not convinced that his eyes aren't deceiving him, but the minutes drag on, until it becomes clear that this is not a hallucination.
The Northern Water Tribe is sending major assistance to the South Pole, as a result of Avatar Korra's recent engagement to Councilman Tarrlok, the representative of the Northern Water Tribe. The paper clearly states that the engagement had been politically motivated; that the Avatar and the Councilman fervently denied any preexisting involvement, save for their time working on the task force together. We are only doing what is best for our people. Looking at the photograph attached to the article, Amon believes it. The Avatar looks pale and drawn with worry and apprehension, dark circles underneath her eyes. Tarrlok just looks tired. They hold hands, but it looks more like they're both just trying to help each other stand and face the cameras, rather than an act of passion.
The wedding is to be next month, in Republic City, and the Northern Water Tribe has already deployed a vast amount of resources to the South Pole.
The article is well written, clear and concise and to the point, and still, Amon has a hard time processing it. His mind can't wrap around the word engagement. Councilman Tarrlok and the Avatar and engagement and wedding.
He sets the paper aside. He puts his head in his hands, tea forgotten. His thought process seems to have slowed to a crawl. This is the last thing he had planned for; this is the last thing he had expected. The implications-
There will be no implications, Amon reminds himself harshly. Amon has no family outside of the Equalist movement, after all. They are the only brothers and sisters he has left. A firebender had killed his entire family.
He holds on to that thought with an iron-clad fist until much later in the evening, when he is sitting in his small office, reviewing the plans for the airplanes Hiroshi has been working on. Numerous newspaper articles describing the latest activities of the special task force created by Councilman Tarrlok, and articles covering the epidemic of violent crime and destruction caused by the bending triads, are pinned to his walls.
By chance, Amon's gaze lights on one of the black-and-white newspaper images of Tarrlok and the Avatar, standing triumphantly behind a group of kneeling, subdued Equalists, and something inside him crumples. Tarrlok smirks, arms crossed over his broad chest, his features painfully similar to the face that Amon sees in the mirror at the end of every night, when the mask is off, and he's washing off the painted-on scar.
His younger brother is going to marry the Avatar.
Amon turns his head ever so slightly, his gaze fixing on the stubborn, defiant expression on her face. It's nearly identical to the one he had often worn as a teenager, down to the three ponytails fluttering in the wind.
Well, hello, hated enemy-little sister, he thinks, fingers curling into a white-knuckled fist around the pen. Welcome to the family.
There's irony there, but he can't appreciate it, and he puts his head in his hands again, the mask cold against his flushed palms.
The morning after, and for the two days after that, it feels like a surreal dream, despite the short pieces about it that keep turning up in the newspaper. It's not until Amon looks in on Tarrlok's office late one night and finds him sitting at the desk, carefully carving a betrothal necklace - pages and pages of hand-drawn sketch ideas laid out before him, covering most of the available space - that it sinks in again.
The next time Amon sees the Avatar - from a distance, as always - she's wearing the necklace. The stone is the color of the sea, and the ribbon is dark blue and made of the finest silk. The carving turned out magnificently, better than the best of Tarrlok's sketches.
It defies traditional Water Tribe gender roles, but in between his duties as a council member and the additional responsibility of the task force, Tarrlok takes an active role in planning the wedding, as the Avatar focuses on her airbending training, trying to force her way through her spiritual block. The marriage may be a purely political affair, but after some observation of his brother's activities, Amon discovers that this apparently is not a reason for Tarrlok to curb his typical extravagance. He plans every little girl's fantasy wedding, down to the smallest details, with no expenses spared. It is odd but strangely endearing, and Amon almost feels guilty about what he is planning to do; about how the perfect day his brother is planning so meticulously will be destroyed.
His resolve solidifies the day that he finds the guest list for the wedding, after breaking into Tarrlok's office late at night. He had expected that the airbender family would be invited, as well as Master Katara and her other two children. The Avatar's friends are on the list as well - Asami Sato and the two boys from the pro-bending team, and Amon traces the names of the Avatar's mother and father, lost in thought. In the end, that is the deciding factor.
Though the attack will be the largest offensive strike that they have ever performed, it is not intended to target Tarrlok or the Avatar directly or put them in harm's way. His sole objective is just to capture her parents and her friends - perhaps a couple of the airbenders, if it is possible - and equalize them. He may imprison them afterwards, or he may not; he may release them to her. He isn't sure yet. Either way, the emotional and psychological trauma will be immense, and it will send the message that he wants, reminding the Avatar of their last encounter, on Aang Memorial Island. I'm saving you for last. It will be so much easier to deal with her at the end if that fighting spirit of hers is broken, and she won't be able to make any spiritual progress if she's too wrapped up in her own pain and depression to transcend all mortal concerns, as she must.
As the date gets closer, Tarrlok and the Avatar often spend evenings together, walking along the coastline, presumably trying to get to know one another better. On the nights that they don't see one another, they talk on the phone for some time, Tarrlok leaning back in his chair. How do you feel about orchids? Or do you like roses? he asks, looking genuinely perplexed, and reminiscent of the child who had wanted so badly just to please his father and mother and brother. Do you prefer royal purple or dark violet? Yes, they are two different colors. Yes, I'm sure. Yes, it matters. And what kind of climate would you like to visit - I was thinking that after the wedding, we could take about a week off to travel.
As he converses with the Avatar, Tarrlok absentmindedly marks off the days until the wedding in his event planner. Amon watches him do so, and marks off the days in the calendar that hangs in his own office. Whenever he feels the slightest twinge of regret, he leaves his office to walk amongst his people, and reminds himself over and over again, that they are his real family, that they are where his loyalties lie.
The Avatar chooses orchids over roses and royal purple over dark violet, and the wedding is the most beautiful and splendid that Republic City has seen since Avatar Aang and Master Katara were married, decades ago.
Amon registers that much from the airship, as their fleet approaches Republic City's Central Park, under cover of the early evening clouds. He goes out to the deck and places his hands on the railing calmly, waiting for the reaction, waiting for somebody to look up and spot them, and for everybody to break out in panic. His brother and the Avatar actually make a beautiful couple, in their traditional Water Tribe finery, he notices, feeling quite detached from the situation. And they had decided on an eight-tier cake with pale pink frosting and buttercream flowers after all. Tarrlok had been so very torn between the buttercream flowers and the golden sugar vines.
It takes some time for them to be noticed; everybody is occupied with dancing, conversation, or eating. Amon doesn't catch who sounds the alarm in the first place, but by the time he finishes his conversation with the Lieutenant, the faint strains of music that have been drifting upward have stopped, only to be replaced by screaming.
He glances over at Liu, who smiles faintly. "Well," he says. "That's our cue."
They descend in waves, quickly, and in less than two minutes, they're on the ground. Events unfold rapidly from that point, the situation quickly degenerating into havoc, the air charged with electricity and rent with torrents of flame and water; earth and air. Visibility is poor, and as Amon fights off all the Order of the White Lotus members he can reach, easily keeping them away from his Equalists, blocking their chi before they can burn and maim his brothers and sisters with their firebending, he catches a brief glimpse of the Avatar. She looks enraged and terrified all at once, her long, fur-lined sleeves pushed up to her elbows, her hair falling free of the ornaments that hold it in the elaborate style. She seems to have realized the purpose of the attack - she's shoved her parents behind her, along with her three friends and the airbender children, protecting them with her body, unleashing vicious, uncontrolled bending unlike he's ever seen before. Tarrlok and Tenzin hold the Equalists at bay from the opposite side, forming a protective circle around the targets.
But they're outnumbered, Amon sees. Sheer numbers threaten to overwhelm them - thrice, people have made it close enough to the Avatar's mother and father to electrocute them, but before they can do it properly, forcing the two of them into unconsciousness and pulling them away from the fold, Asami Sato neutralizes them, demonstrating no compunction whatsoever for her traitorous behavior.
Still, the repeated strikes take their toll. The Avatar's father shields her mother and one of the airbending children from an attack, but the strain of yet another electrocution makes him stumble and fall to his knees, clutching his chest in agony. The Avatar looks back at him, her lips parting in an anguished scream, and-
Too late, Amon realizes that he may have miscalculated.
Her eyes glow white with the light of the Avatar State, and she is lifted into the air like a doll being pulled by the strings. The earth beneath their feet begins to groan, cracking and splintering, boulders wrenching up from underneath the ground, throwing everybody off balance. The air around all of them becomes suffocatingly heavy, and this time, when she whirls her hands through the air, it unleashes gale-force winds that tear out like a cyclone, sweeping everybody in her path - friend and foe alike - through the air as if they weigh nothing at all, tossing them ten or twenty feet away. More. Her friends and family clutch each other in fright, huddling together for protection. Korra, they call, trying to snap her out of it, and he can see their lips move. Korra, please-
It's no use. She is beyond anywhere they can reach her. The attacks keep coming, directed at his Equalists, even though she can't really aim well, in this state.
Amon watches her - it - horrified and disgusted and enraptured all at once, by the sheer power and the destruction she's wreaking as she shelters her loved ones. Typical bender, uncaring of who they trod over and destroy in order to protect the interests of their own. The thought crosses his mind, belatedly, that this is the perfect opportunity to end things. As odd as it is to think it, she's vulnerable right now, levitating in the air as she is. All it would take to break her and the Avatar cycle is one well-aimed dagger, and his accuracy is nearly ten out of ten.
Amon slips closer, nimbly dodging massive slabs of rock and torrents of flame, while the others, Equalists and benders alike, are running away. It's chaos and utter pandemonium and it looks like a war zone. He slides a hand to his belt, retrieving his favorite knife.
And all of a sudden, there's an obstacle in his path that he hadn't expected. Tarrlok stands in front of him, fine clothes torn, hair disheveled, his face a mask of fury, his hands trembling with rage. They're just a little more than a few feet from each other, as close as they had stood the last time they had come face to face, in the middle of the arctic tundra, with Yakone's twitching, tortured body hovering to the side of them. The breath catches in Amon's throat, despite his best efforts, and he stills for a fraction of a second.
Tarrlok sweeps both his hands in a slashing horizontal motion - waterbending, not bloodbending - drawing water from the nearby battered, broken ornamental fountain. Before Amon can even blink, there are ten daggers of ice racing toward him with impossible speed. He's seen Tarrlok practice this technique before, in the waters of Yue Bay, and he ducks and weaves, leaping backward and dodging them as quickly and adeptly as he has evaded the Avatar's attacks. The knives are aimed for his heart, he notices, undoubtedly killing strikes, and as much as that knowledge shouldn't hurt, it still does. They miss, but just barely, slicing chunks of dark fabric off his clothes, nicking the skin on his arms and shoulders. One grazes his mask near the jaw, piercing off a small chunk of painted porcelain.
"Stay away from her," Tarrlok snarls, his voice like nothing human, as he unleashes another barrage of unrelenting attacks, more ice knives and countless tendrils of water, snaking around Amon's legs and feet until it's all he can do to evade them. He's forcing him backwards, trying to corner him against a tree. "You won't ever lay a hand on my wife again."
He's panting with exhaustion and adrenaline, and despite the way his pupils had dilated in fear at first, he fights. Unwillingly, Amon thinks back to the last word he had spoken to him. Weakling, he had spat, his voice heavy with condemnation and disgust.
There is nothing weak in the opponent he faces now, and Amon feels the faintest, inappropriate stirring of pride.
He'll have to overpower him someday, regardless. Equalize him. But as he assesses the situation, he knows that today is not that day.
Amon lunges forward, neatly stepping around the attacks and striking like a cobra-panther, disabling Tarrlok's chi points in less than two seconds. His brother's eyes widen in shock and horror as he stumbles and tries to keep from falling to his knees, grabbing at Amon's neck in a futile attempt to keep him close and prevent him from running. It brings their faces inches from each other, and he is reminded, painfully, of childhood games of wrestling and tag.
He dislodges Tarrlok's hand more gently than he had planned and shoves him to the ground. And then he turns and runs.
Amon watches the aftermath from a safe distance. The park is in utter ruins. Waterbenders work to extinguish the flames, while ambulances carry his brothers and sisters and benders alike out on stretchers. Those who haven't been injured hurry to the safety of their homes, escorted by the police. The airbenders and the Avatar's friends are amongst the last to leave, throwing worried glances at her as they do so, forced to listen to the assurances of Tenzin and the healers that she will be all right.
The Avatar had come plummeting to the earth, falling out of the Avatar State, a few minutes after he had made his escape and signaled that his followers should fall back. It had taken her several more minutes to fully regain consciousness. Right now, she's slumped on the ground, gripping her head as if in pain, unable to stand for more than a few moments. She's alternately being held by Tarrlok and her distraught father, as her mother holds her hand and fights back tears. Tarrlok appears to be talking to the Avatar's parents, trying to reassure them, to no avail. All four of them look tired and beaten and broken, in such stark contrast to the happiness they must have had shared just two hours ago. The Avatar shudders deeply, her breathing still ragged, obviously flashing back to the sight of his Equalists storming her family and friends.
Amon takes the sight in, considering the fact that even though his plan had not succeeded in the technical sense, in some way, he has still triumphed.
There is no opportunity to plan another strike. Air Temple Island is guarded as heavily as a fortress, as is Tarrlok's expansive home. The Avatar's parents depart for the South Pole after four days in a ship heavily guarded by the Order of the White Lotus, and Amon decides that he will allow them to pass. Perhaps he should save them for a later stage in the revolution, and deal with them at the same time he addresses the issue of the airbender family, the Avatar's surrogate parents and siblings. All the more devastating for you, my dear, he thinks coldly, humorlessly, remembering the lines of a children's story his own mother had once read to him.
The newly married couple do not go on the trip to the mountains like Tarrlok had planned. Tarrlok shuts himself inside his office, feverishly planning more strikes against the Equalists and yet more aggressive measures; more injustices that will only serve to drive the rest of the non-benders of Republic City towards Amon's cause. The morning after the wedding, there is a front-page article in the Republic City Times extensively covering the attack. Tarrlok keeps the newspaper in a drawer in his desk and takes it out every so often to stare at it compulsively, with reddened eyes, his hands clutching the fragile paper in a white-knuckled grip.
The Avatar throws herself into the rebuilding effort, trying to help repair the massive damages she had incurred. She slips into the hospital one day, accompanied by Asami Sato and carrying a massive armful of flowers, and she visits the people she had inadvertently harmed. She stays and talks to them, if they're awake and will receive her. Amon notes that she goes to benders, non-benders, and Equalists, which is more than he had expected from her. Perhaps that is Asami's influence. Not all of his incapacitated followers are hostile to her, and that is worrying. She converses with two of them - Sumie, whose leg was shattered by a boulder, and Eizan, who has several broken ribs - for more than fifteen minutes.
After she leaves the hospital, she cries with what appears to be genuine remorse as Asami comforts her, and Amon isn't sure how to feel about that.
The days and weeks pass, dragging on into months, the revolution progresses, and he continues to monitor her, and Tarrlok, and her-and-Tarrlok. It's a strange feeling, because he has always liked keeping an eye on Tarrlok but he despises her; seeing her and everything she represents puts a bad taste in his mouth. It's disconcerting, to glance in on Tarrlok's home and see her taking up space there. Her polar bear-dog lies in the back courtyard, eating moon peaches off the trees and swimming out to the depths of Yue Bay to hunt. The Avatar practices her bending there, keeping Tarrlok company when he had once been alone. Through the windows, he sees Tarrlok giving her cooking lessons. Sometimes they play Pai Sho, stretched out on the floor in the sitting room, in front of the fireplace, and a lot of the time, they just talk.
It's not all business and fighting on the task force together. When circumstances allow, they go to the theater, or out to dinner, or for long walks on the beach or picnics in the mountains (riding the Avatar's polar bear-dog, with her steering in the front and Tarrlok's arms wrapped around her waist, an expression of mild terror on his face) and drives along the scenic coastline. Surprisingly enough, the two of them appear content and happy together, and Amon can't tell whether this disconcerts him or pleases him. He wants Tarrlok to be happy, he always has. Over the past decade - more than a decade - from a distance, he has seen his younger brother's previous relationships crash and burn, which worried him. It's nice to see Tarrlok going home at regular hours and having someone to go home to, instead of staying in his office past midnight, mechanically eating out of paper boxes of takeout, the piles of paperwork on his desk his only company. Despite the stress and tension that the Equalists are causing him, he seems happier than he has been in a long time. He smiles genuinely whenever he's around his wife, and Amon hasn't seen so many real smiles from him in years.
And he doesn't grudge his brother that, he really doesn't. It's just that he wishes, with every fiber of his being, that he had found somebody else to be happy with. Anybody else.
Typical Tarrlok, Amon thinks bitterly, as he cleans his weapons one night. Yakone tells us to destroy the Avatar, and he marries her instead.
It complicates his plans in a way he had never expected. She may be his sister-in-law now, but he doesn't think of her as family. There is no softening of his feelings toward her. It's Tarrlok that he's concerned for - it would have been so much easier on him, on his conscience, if his brother hadn't come to care for the girl. But of course he had, of course he would. He had always been a fool, after all.
Regardless of his distaste for her, he begins to watch the Avatar more closely than he has before, searching for any signs of…problematic behavior. Some justification, any justification, that he can someday hold in front of Tarrlok to defend his own actions. She still spends a lot of time with those boys from her pro-bending team, but she is as frustrating as ever and gives him nothing. Again, to his surprise, she is completely faithful to his brother. Regardless of their political differences, he treats her kindly and she responds with affection. She is a good wife, as far as he can tell, and he hates her even more for it.
Tarrlok stays in his office later than normal one evening, holding the newspaper that had covered the Equalist attack on his wedding and working on something, for quite some time. At this distance, Amon can't see what he's doing - just staring, most likely, deep in thought, planning revenge and coming up with more and more extreme ways to suppress the Equalist movement.
Tarrlok leaves as the sun sets, taking a good amount of his work with him, unfortunately, but it is better than the days where he would just stay until sunrise and sleep in his chair, hunched over his precious mahogany desk. Amon waits for night to fall properly before he slips through the window and enters the obnoxiously large, grandiose office, silent and dark as a ghost. He skims his fingers along the bookshelves and stares around the room, his eyes lingering on the purposefully intimidating wall of water. As far as he can tell, nothing has changed.
He seats himself at Tarrlok's desk, taking a brief moment to appreciate the irony, before carefully searching the many drawers. It seems that his brother happened to have taken most things of value home with him tonight, although Amon does find a short list of locations Tarrlok intends to target for his next task force raid. He smiles a little behind the mask, silently filing the information away for future reference. He will order that two of those facilities be shut down at dawn, and he can arrange ambushes at the next three. If Tarrlok only knew how much precious counter-revolution information had been stolen from him like this… And he wondered, he fretted, digging his fingers through his long, shiny hair, frown lines appearing on his forehead and dark circles underneath his eyes, why the Equalists always seemed to be three steps ahead of him, no matter what he did.
Amon looks up at the desk itself, searching for any stray scraps of paper. His gaze catches on something else instead, and this time, he frowns.
He picks up the new addition to the desk, nestled in between pen holders and two stacks of paperwork. It's small; subtle. It is the only remotely personal touch in the entire office. It is the only personal touch that Tarrlok has added to any office or living space he has had since leaving the North Pole and coming to Republic City.
The too-expensive picture frame is an elegant dark blue shot through with veins of silver, reminiscent of moonlight in a dark sky. Inside it is the picture from the newspaper, one of the few happy ones that had accompanied the article about the wedding. The bride is dressed in all of her traditional finery, her hair done in a complicated style. Her mouth is stuffed with cake and her lips curve upward in a smile, her eyes closed. She looks so happy that even the black and white can't mute it. The attack will start half an hour from that moment.
Amon stares at the picture until the details of the image begin to glaze over and his mouth fills with a bad taste. He sets it down precisely where it had been before, his hands shaking ever so slightly. Just to confirm, he pulls the drawer furthest on the right open and retrieves the newspaper article. He traces the empty space above the banal caption, his gloved fingertips skimming across the edges. He folds the newspaper and deposits it back in its place, careful not to leave behind a single telltale crease.
He stares at the framed photograph for some time, unable to comprehend why it upsets him so. It is the image itself, and the girl inside it, as much as it is the knowledge that Tarrlok had sat at this desk and taken the time to neatly cut it free and frame it so that he can glance at it throughout the day and take some comfort from it. The proof that, over the months, his stupid little brother has really, actually gone and fallen in love with the Avatar.
This puts him in a very difficult position, he thinks, bleakly, numbly. He can't stray from his plan just because of this. There are much larger things at stake here. His resolve should not waver. If he kills the Avatar, it will hurt his brother, but he'll help Tarrlok find someone else to love, later on, once the war is won. A non-bender, a woman in the Equalist movement. Someone more appropriate (for you, not for him, a small, traitorous voice speaks up, he loves this one, he vowed to protect her, and losing her will just drive him to take more extreme measures against us, to the point where you may not be able to justify keeping him alive), but-
Amon fights the temptation to set the photograph facedown - better yet, to grab it and fling it against the opposite wall with all of his might, shattering it into a thousand little pieces - and rises smoothly, brushing specks of invisible dust off his clothes. He exits as silently as he entered, leaving no trace of his presence behind.
One day before a large task force attack, Amon witnesses something strange at his brother's home, on his way to the Equalist headquarters. He had been intending to slip inside, as he always does, and scour the study for any last-minute intelligence to use against them - but Tarrlok leaves for work late, which never happens, and the Avatar fails to leave for her airbending lessons at all.
This is inconvenient. Under the cover of the trees, he maneuvers around to the window of the bedroom that Tarrlok and the Avatar share. She's curled up in bed in a miserable lump, looking pale and and weak and like nothing more than a tired, sick child. There's a plate of breakfast on the bedside table, mostly untouched. Every time she tries to even take a sip of the tea or a bite of the toast, she shudders and dashes in the direction of the bathroom.
It's quite odd. The nausea indicates food poisoning, perhaps. It's a stroke of luck, and Amon hopes that the sickness will last a few days. If she can't take part in the task force raid, the enemy will be all the weaker.
At some point, after a long disappearance into the bathroom, the Avatar staggers out and reaches over to the telephone on the bedside table. She presses buttons shakily and waits, and when her lips start to move, she dissolves into tears. Amon narrows his eyes, trying to read her lips, but she's turned away from him, at the wrong angle.
This is a waste of time. He has important business to take care of. He can check in here later today to see if her condition has improved and try and determine whether she will be in fighting shape tomorrow or not.
Amon returns in the evening, around the time Tarrlok comes home from work. The Avatar seems marginally better. She's stopped vomiting and freshened up, but she still looks sick and scared, dark circles under her eyes, arms wrapped around her stomach. She paces the kitchen nervously until Tarrlok comes home. When he steps inside, he cups her face in both of his hands and leans down to kiss her on the lips, presumably asking how she's feeling. If anything, the question just seems to make her more uncomfortable.
Amon watches the long conversation that unfolds, feeling slightly bemused, something that is out of character for him. The Avatar paces and gestures furiously with her hands, visibly upset, on the verge of tears. Tarrlok looks stunned beyond belief, but he holds her as if trying to reassure her. This seems like a disproportionate reaction to something as simple as her being too sick to participate in a task force raid.
He doesn't understand until Tarrlok sinks to his knees in front of her, wrapping his arms around her waist and resting his head against her stomach. Even then, it takes a few long moments for it to sink in, and when it finally does, Amon's face drains of all color and his limbs go numb.
He backs away slowly until the house disappears into the trees, and then he turns around and makes his way to headquarters, walking fast, head down, heart in his throat.
They have sources who work for the telephone company, of course. It is a simple matter to procure the recording of the call that Avatar Korra made to Air Temple Island early this morning.
Amon listens, stone-faced, to the conversation between the Avatar and Councilman Tenzin's wife. The Avatar is a barely coherent mess of sobbing and hiccups. He catches something about I didn't realize I hadn't bled in forever until today, I never paid much attention to that stuff anyway; I only forgot to drink the tea a few times, on those mornings that I was in a hurry to get to Air Temple Island on time, and I don't know how I could have been so irresponsible, we're in the middle of a war - I don't know what's going to happen-
The conversation on Korra's part is a study in pure fear and panic. Pema is calm, steadying, and reassuring; the perfect mother. She stays on the phone with Korra for more than an hour, until she calms down.
I'm just so scared, Pema, Korra confesses toward the end, in a tiny voice. I've put enough people in danger just by being here and being the Avatar. You and Tenzin and the kids, my parents, my friends, Tarrlok, and now…she coughs and hiccups. We're his number one enemies, she says miserably. He hates us. You've heard the radio addresses he's made about the brutality of the task force and the injustices of Tarrlok's laws. And we're just - I just - served him another target, right on a silver platter.
It's okay, Pema reassures, bracingly. It's going to be all right, Korra. Don't worry about us. Tenzin and I went through something slightly similar when we found out we were going to be having Rohan in the middle of all of his, but even Amon wouldn't ever harm a baby.
He is startled by the depth of the conviction in Pema's voice. Korra laughs shakily. I hope you're right.
He clicks off the conversation, and the last lines echo in the small office.
He gets ready for bed.
Tactically, he could never have asked for a better opportunity. The Avatar will be completely unable to fight for at least six months - from her talk with Pema, they had estimated that she is about three months along already. She will be completely vulnerable, which in turn, makes the city more vulnerable and easier to topple. The implications of this are staggering, and if he exploits them correctly, they will lead to his victory.
Amon removes the mask, finally, and washes the scars from his face. He settles into the bed and places the mask beside his pillow, and his thoughts involuntarily drift in another direction entirely.
His younger brother is going to be a father.
If he allows it.
He lies very still, disconcerted by the understanding that the small clump of cells growing in the Avatar is - will become? - his own niece or nephew. Yakone's blood, he thinks, disgusted, but involuntarily, he remembers what Tarrlok had been like as a baby and young child. Cheerful, loving, innocent. He knows, instinctively, that no matter how deep the similarities run otherwise, Tarrlok won't be the kind of father that Yakone was. He will be a good father, loving and tender, and his child will be as sweet and happy and carefree as Tarrlok once was.
-if he allows it.
He gets up and searches the drawers in the bedside table for the pills that help him sleep.
Amon estimates that there will be a few weeks until the news of the Avatar's pregnancy breaks - she isn't showing yet, after all, and the winter clothes make it even easier for her to hide any telltale signs - and he is forced to make a decision. He spends hours in meditation. For the first time in a very long time, he avoids checking in on Tarrlok and even the Avatar.
He holds out for three weeks, throwing himself even harder into plans for the revolution, before his resolve wavers. After confirming that Tarrlok and the Avatar are out, he enters the house through the attic, as he normally does, and pads noiselessly through the halls. The house is a little less clean than it normally is, and he discovers the reason why soon enough. The small study across from the large bedroom that the parents-to-be share is in the process of being converted to a nursery.
Amon lingers in the doorway for a few moments, torn, a strange, tight feeling in his throat, before flipping the lights on and cautiously stepping inside. He is the only spot of darkness in the otherwise bright room. It's been painted pale purple, and rows of real, fragile, bleached white seashells adorn the walls and hang from the ceiling, along with little bone carvings of Water Tribe spirits and animals. A baby mobile with hundreds of brightly painted ocean creatures from around the world hangs over the crib. A painting of a polar bear-dog family playing in the snow is mounted on the wall nearby, and there is a large, soft stuffed wolf toy nestled in the corner of the crib. It's very much like the one Tarrlok had as a baby and young child, the one that he - Noatak - had handed down to him, when he had been a newborn.
It's a beautiful, soothing environment, and he doesn't want to, but he imagines his brother and the Avatar carefully selecting everything for it. They would have spent hours doing so. The baby would love these things; any child would. He can just imagine it - a little baby Tarrlok - cooing at the mobile and waving small hands at it, or sticking the seashells into its mouth and happily gumming away at them. Maybe its first word will be "woof", thanks to the dogs in the painting and constantly being around the Avatar's dog. The Avatar would have undoubtedly gone into paroxysms of glee upon seeing the polar bear-dog painting, and he's sure the mobile had been her choice as well. Tarrlok would have picked up the soft wolf and thought of - remembered-
He can't be here anymore. Amon exits rapidly, just barely remembering to flick the lights off as he goes.
The news of the Avatar's pregnancy breaks a few days later, and not long after that, his Lieutenant and a few other higher-ranking officers ask him what he plans to do. She's vulnerable, they say. He's distracted.
He knows. A mother will do anything to protect her children. Threaten her, and by extension, the baby, and she'll be in the Avatar State in the blink of an eye. Kill her then, break the cycle, and victory is all but assured. It will herald the beginning of his new world order. Or if they still want to be more subtle and take things slowly, to play the psychological game for now, they just have to ensure that she miscarries. (With his bloodbending, he could do it in the blink of an eye, and nobody would be any wiser.) Immediately follow that loss up with the destruction of the airbenders and her friends, perhaps her parents as well, and the Avatar will be a truly broken girl, lacking the emotional strength and willpower to fight. He'll equalize her, make her an example, and she'll submit docilely to anything he has planned and say everything he wants her to say, too deeply depressed to do anything more.
He knows all of this, and they remind him anyway. It's all very simple on paper.
But it's his brother's wife and child. Tarrlok loves the Avatar and their unborn child, and losing them would devastate him. The second option doesn't require the loss of both of them, unlike the first, and for Tarrlok's sake, he can choose that. But it's his own niece or nephew, and when Amon thinks back to the carefully prepared nursery, his chest hurts.
They can always have another, he rationalizes. She's young, after all, just turned eighteen. When they're both equalized, I'll let them live, close to me, under strict supervision. They'll still have each other, and they can start a family then, when everything is more stable.
He stares at the ceiling at night and silently apologizes to Tarrlok. This is a war, this is about ending the oppression of hundreds of thousands of non-benders, millions of them, around the globe. There are greater things at stake here than the emotional well-being of a brother that Amon isn't supposed to have.
Amon decides to do it personally, in private, so Korra can cope with the loss in her own home and not out in public, in the middle of a task force raid. It makes things more difficult for him, but it feels like he owes her this small thing, at least. She is a failure of an Avatar, an overprivileged, spoilt brat who doesn't understand that she is perpetuating a system of oppression - but she is a good wife to Tarrlok. She is one of his very few genuine friends, and even he can't doubt that she has come to love him. She has made him happy, and this is his perverse way of thanking her.
He waits in the bedroom, hidden inside the massive armoire in the corner of the room. This is where she naps after returning from airbending training, and she doesn't use this armoire. It's full of Tarrlok's clothes, and the scent of clean linen, with a touch of the spray he likes to wear (vanilla and florals, just like their mother), pervades his nostrils.
Amon hears her before he sees her. She stomps down the hall in her heavy boots, and at first, upon hearing her voice, he's alarmed, but he realizes soon enough that she doesn't have company or have that infernal polar bear-dog with her, she's just talking to herself.
More accurately, the baby, he realizes, surprised. She's actually talking to it, even though there's no way it can understand her. Is she that lonely? She doesn't talk to it in the soothing, muted tone his mother had used when she was pregnant with Tarrlok. Instead, she chatters away as excitedly and normally as if she's talking to one of her friends over lunch.
"And anyway, then Bolin said that he punched the other guy in the face," the Avatar relays, as she sweeps into the room, not even giving the armoire a passing glance. She kicks off her boots, wincing as she massages her swollen ankles. "I was really surprised, because I've never really seen Bolin actually lose his temper before, I can't imagine it-"
She starts to undress, stripping off her yellow and red Air Acolyte clothes, and Amon averts his eyes. "I would have done the same thing, though," she continues, her voice muffled, as she pulls one of Tarrlok's fur-lined Water Tribe anoraks over her head. "I mean, I know the triad members in the Red Monsoons are the lowest of the low, but even they shouldn't try and rob any street kid, let alone a blind street kid."
She settles herself back against the pillows and sighs, and Amon closes his eyes, concentrating, focusing on her body and preparing himself, until he can feel the beat of her heart and the softer beat of the baby's, in his own fingertips. "It's the parents' fault for abandoning their kid, though," she says softly. "How could you just dump a little kid in the street because of something they have no control over?" In the thin crack between the armoire doors, he sees her rest a hand on her stomach absentmindedly. She looks more thoughtful than he has ever seen her. "Your dad and I would never love you any less if you came out blind, kid," she says, at last. "We'll love you just the same if you're a non-bender, or if you can't hear, or if you don't have arms or legs. Councilman Sokka once showed me these awesome prosthetics he designed, did I ever tell you about that?"
She stops, and Amon does as well. He's startled by her laugh, and the tenderness in her voice. "I'm doing my best to make sure you come out okay, though, and it better get me favorite parent status when you're finally born. You have no idea how much I miss eating fish."
Korra lapses into silence, snuggling against the pillows. It doesn't take long for her breathing to become deep and even with sleep. It's perfect - she's right there, utterly defenseless-
Amon silently steps out of the armoire. He crosses over to her and watches her, making no noise. She looks so peaceful, with one hand resting protectively over her stomach.
He returns to the Equalist base afterward and faces his officers, and he has never been so thankful for the mask.
"For now, we will cease all plans to attack the Avatar directly," he orders, ignoring the confusion on their faces. "It is dishonorable to target a pregnant woman, no matter who she is."
Eternally frustrating as she is, Korra gives him reason to regret that statement, as her pregnancy progresses. His sources report that she has overcome the spiritual block that has plagued her for the past eighteen years. She's finally started to airbend, and she has crossed into the Spirit World twice. She and Tarrlok are stressed, trying to cope with the deteriorating conditions in Republic City - there are increasingly violent riots almost every night, now - but they are happy with each other.
You owe me, Amon thinks to himself one night, stopping by their home on the way to his tiny apartment. Tarrlok looks more relaxed than he ever does during the day, his jacket discarded, his hair undone and sleeves rolled up to his elbows, as he rests on the sofa, deep in conversation with his precious wife, one hand placed on her stomach, presumably to feel the baby kick.
Tarrlok despises him, but he owes him. He owes him for the safety of his little family - stupid Tarrlok, thinking that he's so flawlessly powerful and in control, and at any time, this entire time, Amon could have easily ended all of them. He owes him for stepping in that night on the tundra, so long ago. If it hadn't been for his interference, Yakone might have killed or permanently damaged him right then and there.
You have no idea what I'm risking for you.
It's no secret that some of his brothers and sisters seriously doubt his wisdom. There is friction and contention in the movement, for the first time in years. They are tired of being patient. Benders have never been considerate of us, they spit, the firebender who killed your family and ruined your life didn't spare your face just because you were a child. So why should we be considerate of them?
Amon assures them not to fear, that he has a new plan, iron-clad, better than the ones he's had before. And, he adds, in the privacy of his own mind, he won't back down from this one.
Korra's parents return to Republic City when her due date is near, accompanied by Master Katara and her daughter Kya, who had traveled from the North Pole. Only the best healers for the Avatar, of course. This time, Amon lets it pass. Perhaps it is sentimental of him, but the birth of a child shouldn't be a time for fear. For a few days at least, until Korra's parents and the others leave, Tarrlok and Korra have a reprieve. Amon keeps to himself, spending days and nights at Equalist headquarters. It's too risky to even attempt to go anywhere near there, and he's not stupid.
There is one day in particular that he feels tense and keeps looking at the clock compulsively, every few minutes, unsure of why. When night falls, he begins to relax.
The next morning, Amon opens the paper to be greeted by a front-page article delivering the news that Avatar Korra and Councilman Tarrlok have welcomed to the world a healthy baby girl, who they've named Nila. Avatar Korra is doing well after the birth, apparently. Amon stares at the sentence until the words blur, as he realizes that somewhere along the way, over the past six months, without consciously realizing it, he had stopped hoping that she would die in childbirth. Korra is "exhausted but happy, doing well, and is up and about, having regained most of her strength already," and it can't be relief that he's feeling. And if it is, it's not for her sake, in any case. It's for his brother's, and - his niece's. Nila's.
He reads the article twice more, and he's thankful for the mask, again.
Two weeks later, after quite a bit of thought and internal debate, Amon goes out and purchases a small, painted music box. It's simple, but it plays some of the most beautiful melodies he's ever heard. He wraps it in white tissue and red ribbon and encloses a one-word note of congratulations, before having it sent to Tarrlok and Korra's home. He's not sure it will even make it past Tarrlok's paranoia, but the next time he checks in briefly on their home, glancing through the gauzy cream curtains in the nursery, he sees the box sitting on the table near the crib, open and playing music, while Korra rests in the armchair and Tarrlok walks up and down the room, Nila's small figure nestled against his shoulder.
Some time passes before the opportunity that he has been waiting for presents itself. Korra walks and talks Nila to sleep in the early evening, pacing around the nursery, cuddling the baby in her arms. Amon hates acknowledging it, but the two of them make a beautiful picture together. He had guessed that Tarrlok would take to parenthood like a turtleduck to water, but he hadn't really expected this loud, wild teenager to be a competent mother. She is, though; she adores his niece fiercely, and Nila seems to love her just as much. Whenever Korra is in the room, Nila reaches toward her and smiles, waving her small arms and legs in pure joy.
He watches and reads her lips as she kisses the top of Nila's head, gently laying her down in her crib. Go to sleep, sweetie. I'll be back as soon as I finish making dinner.
Korra leaves the room, throwing one last, affectionate glance back at her daughter. Amon waits until he is sure that she has made it downstairs before he enters the house as he always does, stepping very carefully, avoiding the floorboards that creak. This is the first time that he's come into the house while the Avatar is here, let alone the child.
He retraces the familiar path to the nursery, and looks in cautiously. The baby is sleeping in her crib, peacefully, quietly. Amon steps inside, taking more care to be silent than he ever has before, until he's standing at the side of the crib, at the same place Tarrlok stands when he's watching her sleep, worriedly monitoring the rise and fall of her tiny body, late into the night.
This is the first time he has seen her up close. This may be the first time he's been this close to any baby at all, now that he thinks about it, and Amon stares, spellbound. Nila looks healthy and well taken care of, not like he had any doubts about that. She has a thick head of dark hair, and she is a more even mix of her parents' features than he had imagined she would be. She wears a soft powder-blue baby anorak, hand-stitched by Korra's mother, and her small hands are curled into fists as she sleeps.
Amon removes his gloves, his eyes never leaving the baby's face; her small, delicate forehead, half-covered by wisps of hair. This won't hurt her much. At worst, she'll have a headache that Korra can quickly soothe with her waterbending.
Korra and his younger brother are so dismissive of the concerns of non-benders; so blind to the oppression they face in almost all walks of life. Blinded by their own privilege, they are thoughtless and insensitive. They either cannot or will not even attempt to see the other point of view and put themselves in the shoes of the people of the Equalist movement. They lack experience, both of them, and that is the underlying reason for their extraordinary lack of compassion. They hardly associate with any non-benders at all. Korra is close friends with Asami Sato, but Asami is extraordinarily wealthy and privileged, and her experience is not at all comparable to the lives of most normal citizens in Republic City, and the greater world.
Perhaps if Korra was born to non-bending parents, or if Tarrlok had ever been involved with a non-bender, it would have been different. They might have had a little more perspective. Would they be so cold and callous to the plight of non-benders and the challenges they face, if somebody close to their heart was a non-bender themselves?
I think not, Amon muses, staring down at the baby in her crib. I think not. And who better to prove this point than the person they both love more than anything else in this world?
It's a shame, really. Nila comes from a talented waterbending bloodline on both sides of her family. As Yakone's granddaughter, like he and Tarrlok, she has the potential to become a bloodbending prodigy. He could have used her; trained her and groomed her to follow in his footsteps, once his time passes.
However, it's not to be. As regrettable as it is, this is what is necessary.
Amon reaches downwards, and the baby's eyes flutter open.
They're a shocking bright blue, and he sees the cream and red of the mask reflected in them. He freezes instinctively, and he can't tell which of them is more startled. Nila frowns, her small face scrunching up in displeasure, as she registers the fact that he is not her mother.
"Shh," Amon whispers hastily, his muscles tensing up. "Don't cry, little one."
To his surprise, she complies, and he wonders whether his voice reminds her of her father's. Her body relaxes somewhat, although the frown doesn't disappear entirely, and she wriggles, pushing her stuffed wolf away and reaching up to him, making a soft gurgling sound.
Amon hesitates, and it is only the desire to keep her quiet that motivates him to lean over, carefully, gently, lifting the baby up from the crib and into his arms, unconsciously mimicking the way he's seen Korra and Tarrlok do it. He's never held a baby before, and it makes him feel peculiar. She is very small and soft, but solid, and she smells of powder and milk. This close, he can see that Nila has Korra's lips and nose, but Tarrlok's eyes, and Tarrlok's frown. And like her mother, she's fearless. She looks right into his eyes and places her delicate little hands on his neck and then his mask, patting it curiously, her hands pressing against the cool, unfamiliar porcelain, and he doesn't know for sure, of course, but he thinks this may be uncharacteristic behavior for a baby.
"Do you know who I am?" he asks her softly, knowing this is ridiculous. "Do you have any idea?"
Nila blinks and pats his mask again. Amon hesitates, every single one of his instincts screaming for him not to do it, but he reaches up anyway, and slowly pushes the mask up over his head, revealing his face to her. His real face, free of the painted-on scars, and she tilts her head, confused.
"I'm your uncle," he says at last, the memory of how he had hidden in the armoire in Korra's bedroom and what he had been prepared to do making the words stick in his throat. "It's nice to meet you, finally."
Nila responds to the gentle introduction by trying to stick her fist into his mouth and attempting to pull on his eyelashes with her other hand. It's too similar to how the month-old Tarrlok would greet him, whenever he ventured close to his cradle, and Amon gives a choked little laugh, quickly pulling his mask down over his face. Nila frowns again at this, uttering a soft cry, and he shushes her quickly. "It's still me, little one, don't worry. Don't be scared. I won't hurt you."
She looks reassured at the sound of his voice, and she nestles her head against his shoulder. Amon rests a hand on her back, feeling the rise and fall of her chest. "I won't hurt you," he echoes, his voice barely audible. "And I won't hurt your parents. I've been thinking that maybe when everything is over, we can all be a family. Would you like that?"
Nila makes some incoherent but content noises, fisting a hand in the dark material of his hood. At this angle, he can't really reach around to her forehead and take her bending, so he just holds her, rubbing her back, humming something soft and tuneless.
Amon isn't sure how much time passes like that before he hears the sounds of footsteps on the stairs. He tenses up, readjusting Nila in his arms - but there's no time to take her bending, not now. He lifts the mask, quickly kissing her on the forehead, before carefully setting her back down in her crib. "Go back to sleep, little one."
She watches curiously as he leaves, making more of her strange baby sounds and moving her arms, and Amon pauses in the doorway for a second, taking one last look back, before he makes his escape.
He is safely outside by the time Korra comes into the room. She is surprised to see Nila awake, and as soon as Nila's gaze lights on her mother, she stretches her arms out, kicking her feet urgently and babbling with excitement. Korra lifts her daughter into her arms, kissing the top of her head and smoothing her hair back with unmistakable affection. What's got you so worked up, kid? she asks, amused.
She opens the music box and dances around the room for a while, as Nila tugs on her hair and beams, and Amon realizes that no matter what her numerous faults are as the Avatar - the thought of Korra dying, of that incredible vitality slowly bleeding out of her, reducing her to an empty shell, no longer fills him with joy. The opposite, as a matter of fact.
His brother returns home a little while later. The second he walks into the nursery, Nila shrieks and attempts to launch herself from Korra's arms into his. Tarrlok wraps both of them into an embrace and kisses Korra, while Nila tries to steal his eyelashes until he laughs and picks her up.
Amon watches them for a few moments more, remembering his words to Nila. Someday, he thinks, again. Maybe someday.
He turns around, seeking out his small, empty apartment. And until then, he has a revolution to plan.
This is the first time Korra has been in active combat in more than a year.
She and Tarrlok had argued over it; this is one of the few things that they actually do fight about. You're not going to be a part of this raid, he snapped, and that's an order.
You need me, she retorted angrily, pulling her task force uniform out of the closet. The force hasn't been doing so well lately, and you're the one who wanted me on it in the first place-
He directed an angry, anguished look across the hall, at where Nila slept in her crib. It's not the same now, and you know it!
In the end, she had won out. Nila is safe at Air Temple Island, under the guard of the Order of the White Lotus, Tarrlok is fighting Equalists aboveground, and she is leading the charge underground, trying to flush out all the Equalists in the central base and confiscate the heavy weaponry. They had succeeded in sneaking into the base and destroying every last one of the mecha-robots and tanks, before the noise had raised the alarm and a surge of Equalists had attacked.
They had managed to subdue and arrest more than thirty or forty, forcing them all aboveground, but the waves of people just keep coming, and the narrow, narrow tunnels are already flooded. The water level is already at her waist and it's steadily rising, and they had lost power a little while ago, meaning that the only illumination in the tunnels are dim, dark green flood lights.
"Should we keep pressing on?" Suluk, her co-captain, yells in her ear, struggling to make himself heard over the roar of water. "We've barely got half of the people who are in here, Amon and his lieutenant are still at large-"
Korra hesitates, torn, before roughly grabbing an Equalist who had been half-stunned by a thrown ice disc, pulling him free of the water and bending the liquid out of his nose and lungs. She throws him backwards, into the arms of one of her fellow task force members. "Get him aboveground and give him medical attention!" she orders, turning back to Suluk. "We - we need to retreat," she forces out, hating the way the words taste in her mouth. "We dealt them enough of a blow by getting rid of the weapons, especially since we destroyed everything in their airfield last month. This is getting dangerous, we don't want to lose anyone down here."
Suluk nods grimly. "I'll spread the word."
"I'll try and get anyone I run into in this hallway aboveground. There's still a chance that the lieutenant is around here."
They split up, and Korra bends the water aside, trying to create some visibility. Just in time to see the three Equalists rushing toward her, lightning sticks lit up.
She freezes for just an instant. Airbend, she thinks desperately, knock them away, there's no way I can survive getting hit with that many lightning sticks at once-
There's only one hope. She keeps waterbending with her left hand, forcing all the water to the side and compressing it into a thin sheet, and with her right hand, she punches a torrent of air out at the Equalists. She hasn't yet mastered this technique, of bending air and another element simultaneously in combat. The air blast is strong but unsteady; it hits two of the Equalists, sending them flying down the hallway, but the third-
He's on her, his lightning stick pressed up against her neck, and though she tries to twist away, he doesn't relent. The charges slam into her, and the pain is unlike anything she had ever felt before, even worse than having Nila had been. Nila, Korra thinks, stunned, agonized, staggering backwards. Every nerve and muscle in her body convulses, and the water, formerly held at bay, slams down on top of them with crushing force. Tarrlok-
Everything goes black, and she collapses into the water.
The next thing Korra is fully conscious of is a stinging slap across her cheek.
Her eyes flutter open, and she blinks, dazed. She's lying in the middle of the street, in the dirt, the blessed, dry dirt. Suluk and the the task force healer, Akino, kneel on one side of her, and Tarrlok - looking bedraggled and wretched with worry - is on the other side of her, holding her hand in a painfully tight grip. "Korra," he says hoarsely. "Are you - you're - we thought you were-"
"I'm fine," she coughs, sitting up, with their help, leaning against Tarrlok. "Thanks for getting me out of there, Suluk."
Korra catches the uncertain glances they exchange. "I wasn't the one who brought you out," Suluk says tentatively, rubbing the back of his neck in confusion. "None of us could find you for a few minutes - and then there you were, lying out by the west exit."
Korra blinks, taken aback, still feeling sore and all-around awful after the electrocution. "…Oh."
"We think you might have gone into the Avatar State after being knocked unconscious, as a basic survival mechanism," Akino explains. "It helped you get back aboveground before you collapsed again."
It's not an unreasonable guess. And as for the brief sensation of being swept up into strong arms and looking up into a pair of inscrutable gray-blue eyes for an instant, before everything faded to black again…it's a hallucination, most likely. Maybe even a memory from a past life, forced to the surface for a second before she slipped into the Avatar State.
Korra forgets about it by the time she and Tarrlok finally pick Nila up and return home.
Chiaroscuro: the treatment of light and shade in drawing and painting; an effect of contrasted light and shadow created by light falling unevenly or from a particular direction on something.
Coda: the concluding passage of a piece or movement, typically forming an addition to the basic structure.
The answer as to how Amon can flawlessly stalk anybody and everybody without being detected: Amon is Batman.