To my Fire and Ice readers, I remember telling you I wouldn't post anything new for a month because of my workload. Unfortunately, a mischievous plot bunny traipsed into my mind and tormented me into writing this simple one-shot. This is my first attempt at Tahorra and since the plot bunny was so insistent that I do something different, this is significantly longer than my recent works.
I dedicate this story to all of my readers, especially Midnight Phantomhive who has been most supportive. Thank you for mentioning me in your profile, dear. Knowing that my works have made you smile and laugh means a lot. (:
Impossible is nothing.
Nothing is impossible.
Call of the Moon
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It was past afternoon when she opened her eyes. Korra was certain because the sun, in a vain attempt to be remembered, had managed to send the remnants of its once powerful rays in her bedroom through the open windows. It was only a matter of time before the moon would make its dramatic appearance on the night sky and put the stars to shame with its magnificence and mystique. She liked the moon more than the sun, for she is—no, was—a waterbender. And a firebender. And an earthbender, too.
She rose to a sitting position and elicited a familiar ache from her battered body. Her muscles throbbed in pain; and she could only imagine how many bruises she had garnered during her recently concluded fight with Amon, who, according to Tenzin, had been killed by Tarrlok, his younger brother. The almost war was over, and she had saved the world. But she was no longer the Avatar. She may have defeated Amon, but he had also broken her in the worst possible way.
Tears streamed down her sore eyes, which had become puffy from the waterworks these past two days. She quickly wiped her cheeks. Her head began to throb again, and she fought the urge to lie down. She had spent most of the day in this humble room, soaking her pillow and blanket with tears.
I need to get out of here, she thought.
She made her way to the door and pressed her ear against the wood, listening intently for any signs of movement from the other side. Footsteps could be heard, and she could tell two different sets of footsteps; one set was heavier than the other. And voices could be heard, too.
"I think we should see if she's all right," Mako said, stopping in front of Korra's bedroom door.
"Geez, bro," Bolin sounded exasperated. "She's obviously not all right. She just lost her ability to bend three elements. Losing one is bad enough. She has it worse than anyone else."
"Well, yeah, but—" Mako paused before continuing, "—maybe she needs someone to talk to right now."
"I still think we should leave her alone," Bolin said with certainty, "Tenzin spoke with her this morning and suggested that she see her old waterbending master who might be able to heal her. Korra didn't take it so well because—" The earthbender's voice trailed away as he and his older brother continued their walk.
Tenzin was wrong. As much as she acknowledged and respected Katara as a master waterbender, Korra knew no one could undo Amon's curse.
She lifted her head from the door and sighed, making a mental note to thank Bolin for convincing Mako not to knock at her door. She was in no physical or emotional state to talk to any of her friends; and as she examined herself in the small mirror that hung on the wall by the window, she decided she didn't want anyone—especially Mako—to see her at all. It was amazing how much she had changed in a span of two days; her blue eyes had become dull as they rested on top of dark skin circles and her mouth curved in such a way that she looked like a doomed heroine from a tragic story.
Well, she was doomed at any rate. In the entire history of the Avatar cycle, she had established herself as the only Avatar to lose her ability to bend three elements. She was, technically speaking, not a true Avatar anymore, but a washed up bender who was probably the favorite topic of the citizens of Republic City. She was Korra, the loudmouth former pro-bender who had gone to every healer in the city along with the rest of Amon's victims. She was a disappointment, a failure of an Avatar, and she just had to accept it.
The night had begun to conquer the sky, and Korra saw the full moon in its splendor. She gazed at the white heavenly body intently, remembering that not too long ago it had been the source of a greater power within her as a waterbender. But there was something about the moon that captivated her so much that she couldn't help but come closer to the window until she found herself seated at its edge.
The moon was calling out to her.
The desire was too strong to resist.
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"Ow," Korra said as she stood up and rubbed her sore bottom. Flying was clearly not for her.
The grand park of Republic City, where she had ignorantly fished out of hunger all those months ago, was still with silence. The night lamps had been lighted, but Korra saw no guard patrolling the grounds. She frowned a little. Lin Beifong needed to get her job back. With or without Amon, the city needed its police to be on guard at all times. And then she remembered that the sharp-tongued woman had also lost her bending, and she began to feel depressed again.
"Well, I certainly didn't expect to see you here, Uh-vatar."
Surprised, she diverted her gaze to her left. Lo and behold, Tahno, one of her former opponents in the pro-bending arena, sat on one of the park benches. His hands were tucked in his pockets while his chin was buried into a gray scarf, giving him the appearance of a man children were taught never to approach.
"Oh, it's you," was all she could say.
The Wolfbat chuckled. "Is that the best you got? I'm disappointed. First you fall from the sky and now you don't even have a nice comeback."
Korra felt her cheeks burn red. "Did you—see that?"
"No, I didn't," Tahno replied sarcastically. "I saw you magically appear at that spot."
"All right, I get it," Korra said, making her way towards him. "Mind if I sit next to you?"
Tahno shrugged, and she took it as a yes. He noticed that she held something in her hand, and driven by genuine curiosity, he asked, "What's that?"
Korra followed his gaze and lifted the Air Nomad glider she had borrowed without permission from Jinora, who was probably bound to forgive her. "Oh, it's a glider. The Air Nomads use it for flying. It's also a good weapon if used properly."
"If used properly," Tahno laughed. "Based on that falling act you've shown, it seems you don't know how to use it properly."
Fighting the strong temptation to whack the young man with the glider, she forced herself to let go of the staff before she could succumb to the uncouth urge. Tahno noticed this and he also noticed something different about her face. He stared at her so fixedly that Korra suddenly blurted out, "What?"
"You've been crying—" Tahno observed the puffiness of her eyes, "—a lot, I should say."
She wanted to lie to save her face, but seeing as she couldn't even deceive Tenzin's children into thinking that she no longer harbored any special feelings for a certain Fire Ferret, she could only look away. Tahno, who was normally irritated by people who barely replied to him, saw that something was not right with the young Avatar.
"It doesn't suit you," he suddenly commented.
Confused by the statement, Korra once again said, "What?"
"Crying," Tahno replied with a smirk, "makes you uglier than you already are."
"Oh, yeah?" Korra felt her cheeks burn red amidst the biting cold. "Well, Pretty Boy, I don't see any girls from your posse throwing themselves at you."
The remark seemed to have made an impression on him, and he smiled sadly, "Now that's the Uh-vatar I know. And yes, I have no posse. I've been alone ever since Amon took my bending."
Korra wished she could take back what she had just said. Tahno had lost everything: his ability to bend, his reputation, and even his so-called friends. And yet he was still able to crack his lame jokes at her while she, the one who still had the ability to bend one element and more importantly, people who were willing to help her, had been crying her heart out for the past few days. Shame overcame her.
"And another thing," Tahno said, weighing his words, "thanks for keeping your promise. You beat Amon."
"It was the least I could do," she replied, "but he took my bending away, too."
Tahno's eyes widened. "So the rumors are true, after all."
Korra looked up at the night sky. The round moon ruled the dark, dotted carpet of the sky. She sighed and said, "I miss waterbending."
Tahno followed her example; and for the first time, the Avatar didn't seem so different from him. He knew he didn't have to say that he, too, missed waterbending. Bending, he believed, was the only thing he truly wanted in this world. He didn't need the fame or the money; he could get by without them. But the loss of his bending was of a completely different scale; it seemed like a part of him had been brutally severed. He rested his eyes on the beautiful moon, and after some time, he said, "Isn't there a way?"
His words seemed to have broken the Avatar's train of thought. She looked at him with a raised eyebrow, and he had to repeat his question before she told him that she had seen every healer in Republic City, and that she had already given up the hope of regaining her bending despite her airbending master's idea of having her pay another healer a visit.
"What's wrong with seeing another healer?" he asked.
Korra sighed. "She won't be able to heal me. I just know it."
"How can you be so sure? Is it one of your special Uh-vatar powers?" Tahno asked seriously.
"I just am!" Korra exclaimed, her voice rising. "Going to the Southern Water Tribe would just be a waste of time!"
"To tell you the truth, Uh-vatar, I think you're just scared," Tahno said with a hint of a smirk on his lips.
Korra couldn't believe her ears. "You're calling me scared?"
"Yes, I am," he replied coolly. "You're scared of failing again. You want to run away."
The words struck Korra like a bulldozer. She opened her mouth to launch a counterattack, but she knew the Wolfbat was anything but wrong. Shamefacedly, she hung her head and sighed. Her breath came out in visible puffs. The night was ripe, and she wondered if Tenzin or anyone at Air Temple Island had gone out to look for her.
"She's a beauty," Tahno suddenly spoke again, prompting her to raise her head. He was staring at the moon once more. "Do you know, Uh-vatar, that I've spent most of my time admiring her ever since I lost my bending?"
Korra shook her head.
"I never thought much about her before. I knew she made me powerful at nights like this but—" Tahno sighed, "—now I see she's a lot more than that."
Surprised but intrigued by Tahno's choice of words, Korra could only look at him with a curious glint in her baby blue eyes.
"She gives me hope, Uh-vatar—" he continued, "—that this is only a phase—" he stood up, extending his arm towards the pearly white sphere, "—and that things will be better."
He looked at her, and for the first time that night, smiled at her genuinely. "Well, it's getting late. Time for me to roll. See you around, Uh-vatar Korra."
Before she could say anything else, Tahno had turned and followed a cemented path out of the park. Korra followed him with her gaze until he had disappeared behind a thick bunch of bushes. Like any trained waterbender, his steps were sure but light; and she quickly found herself listening to the still silence that covered the park occasionally broken by the sound of the crickets and the frogs.
She sat for some time, contemplating on what had taken place, what Tahno had told her, and what she thought of it all. She had clearly misjudged him and had been taken aback by the amount of bluntness he possessed. Tahno, of all people, had the temerity to call her a coward after all she endured just to bring about the downfall of the man who had stolen what they valued most! If it were any regular day, she would have probably told Naga to scare the stuffing out of him; but she could only smile at his words that rang in her head.
The moon gives me hope.
Rising from the park bench with the glider in her hands, she raised her head towards the moon and said, "Thank you. For bringing me to him."
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A skilled airbender would have taken less than twenty minutes to return to Air Temple Island; but considering that Korra had only tried the glider for the second time, she performed relatively well. She landed at Air Temple Island soil thirty minutes after she had taken off from the park grounds and noticed that some of the guards were not at their posts. She quickly sprinted to the front door of the main temple and rapped the door. Her sharp ears immediately picked up the sound of footsteps from the other side, and the door opened to reveal a worried-looking Pema.
"Korra!" she cried. "You're back!"
"Yes," Korra said, "and I suppose Tenzin has dispatched some people to look for me."
"Yes, he has," Pema replied, "so you should go and see him. He's at the dining room."
Korra wasted no time. She ran to the dining room and barged right in, giving her pensive airbending master a fright so alarming that he accidentally knocked over his cup of tea. Tenzin looked at her with a look of surprise and relief at the same time. She knew she had made him worry about her, and she felt the need to apologize.
"I'm back," she said sheepishly. "I'm sorry for leaving without telling anyone."
Tenzin approached her and placed his hands on her broad shoulders. She half-expected him to chastise her a little and deliver a short sermon on why she should never leave the island impulsively, but she only saw a father-like kindness in his eyes. "You're safe, and that's all that matters. You have been through a lot lately, and we understand you need some time alone."
Korra smiled and said, "Gee, thanks a lot, Tenzin. I'll be heading to my room now to pack."
Tenzin frowned. "Pack? For what?"
"For our trip to the Southern Water Tribe—" Korra said, "I want Katara to try. Maybe she can do something. Oh, and Tenzin—" she handed him the glider, "—please return this to Jinora."
Tenzin froze, holding his eldest child's glider in his hands as Korra disappeared from his view. Not a minute passed when the cries of joy from the pro-bending brothers and the cool voice of the daughter of Hiroshi Sato could be heard through the thin walls of the temple. His children and his wife suddenly ran into the room, their faces beaming with delight.
"Daddy! Daddy!" Ikki said with glee. "Korra just said she wants to see Gran Gran! Isn't it wonderful, Daddy? Isn't it?"
"Yes, Ikki. It is indeed," Tenzin replied with a smile.
"Daddy, isn't that my glider?" Jinora asked.
"Why, yes it is, Jinora. Korra must have—" Tenzin stopped, realizing what the Avatar had just done. He handed the glider to his daughter and scampered off to find Korra. It didn't take him long because the bending brothers and the two girls spoke animatedly amongst themselves. It took them some time to realize he was there, and their chatter ceased abruptly.
"What's wrong, Tenzin?" Korra asked.
"You—" he did his best to remain calm, but the brothers and the two girls saw his face turn red, "—you took Jinora's glider and flew. You have no training. You could have fallen and been seriously hurt, especially at the darkness of the night!"
Korra laughed. "Don't worry, Tenzin. I did fall once, but it wasn't anything serious and—" she looked out the nearest window, "—I had someone to help me."
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—Rocket Palette Snippet