Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: The Legend of Korra
A.N: So I decided that there is no way that I can turn this into a chapter fic right now without wearing myself thin. Updates would be crazy sporadic and I already do that enough with the fics I already have out. That said, here is part II (the sequel I promised) and I have left it off (intentionally) in a way that I'd be able to pick it up and turn it into a chapter fic in the future, if I ever chose to.
And also, there is smut, like... pretty explicit smut, so be aware.
Since her first step taken into Republic City, Korra has felt as if she's somehow fallen behind. In airbending training, in love, in understanding her foes, in truly knowing what it means to be the avatar—keeping the balance is so much harder when she can't simply do it with her fists—and the things that she's anticipating are never what she gets.
She looks on after the raid, avoiding the media the best she can—lest she accidentally commit to some other thing she doesn't wish to—watching as Councilman Tarrlok, who has not looked at her once, is leisurely joking about capturing his good side for the newspaper's front page photo.
There are police vans filling with apprehended equalists and so much praise going around for the taskforce. There are so many flashing lights that Korra's legitimately unsure if she'll ever be able to see the same way again. And she cannot deny that they—she and Tarrlok—do indeed make a good team… but this doesn't mean that they didn't also make a mistake.
He must be thinking it too.
She's tired of all the surprises Republic City has had in store for her, tired of everything that has spiraled out of her control, of how little control she actually seems to have.
Just a few weeks ago, everything had been simple and now she has no idea how to proceed. She has no idea what she'd been doing with a man twice her age, a man she hadn't even been sure if she even liked, she still isn't. She can't imagine what he's feeling about it and it's all just a bit more than Korra can take.
. . .
And so when Tarrlok is finally done, having given his last statements to the press, he turns around to find that Korra is long gone.
He frowns and then goes home too.
"Bloodbend your brother Noatak."
. . .
Tarrlok feels the snow crunch beneath his knees, the impact echoing louder than it should, even in the silence that had fallen following his father's order. He wonders, for a moment, if this is because he is so shocked that it is actually happening, that his brother is really doing this—right now, to me—but then he's cringing as his neck is bent backwards against his will.
He can feel a pressure building, as if the foreignness controlling him is forcing his body apart, as if the blood inside him will find a way to burst through his skin. He can hear the sickening sounds of his bones grinding against one another and he wants to throw up, the pain is clouding over his vision.
His brother's influence is like fingernails scrapping down his veins, twisting and pulling, and it is not long before a scream is being wretched from his lips. Even with his own body out of his control his cries can't be stopped, are earsplitting in the high pitched tenor of his young voice… or perhaps Noatak is allowing him to emit them.
That thought though, just makes him feel queasier. Of course his brother would never do that. He's only doing this because of Yakone… it's all because of Yakone. Noatak's not enjoying it. He can't be.
Hot tears are streaking down his face—is his nose bleeding?—and through the wave of pain all he can think is—I'll be forced to do it next… it'll be my turn next to be a monster.
—and his heart starts to ache, starts to pound so loudly encaged within his ribs that he fears he might go deaf…
. . .
Abruptly, Councilman Tarrlok is awoken from his nightmare, jerking upwards to the sound of someone pounding at his front door and for a few moments he continues to think it's just the sound of his heart beating.
He is sweaty and his hair is disheveled and he's forgotten where he is, but he's used to this. They don't plague him every night, not nearly the amount that they used to, but he's never been freed from his memories, will never grow past the silhouette of his youth.
At least he didn't get to the end this time, the worse part, Noatak looking disgusted with him and running away; Noatak leaving him even though he'd begged, leaving him to grow up in a silent home with a broken mother and a hateful father.
"I wish I'd never had a second son."
Tarrlok remembers his father saying this. It is the last meaningful words he'd spoken since Noatak left, froze to death and died.
And when Tarrlok generally awakens from the end of his nightmare, him screaming at his brother's fading back, he's somewhere between crying and destroying his room. It's strange to both miss Noatak so badly that he wishes he'd frozen to death with him and resenting Noatak enough for leaving that he wonders if he should have just bloodbended him and gotten it over with.
Tarrlok brings one hand up, pushing back some of the strands of hair sticking to his forehead, and takes a minute to just breath, in and out, before grabbing the glass of just-in-case water that he's grown accustomed to placing at his bedside.
Finding his composure is hard as usual even though he's had years of practice, and he gets up, throwing on a robe before making his way downstairs.
The knocking has stopped by now—who would bother him at such an hour anyway?—but he still wants to ensure it was nothing of importance. His head is still swimming when he opens the door just enough to peer outside.
She is sitting on his front steps looking out towards the street, only the moonlight illuminating her form, but if the set of her shoulders and watertribe garb weren't enough of a hint to her identity—there are only a small minority of people who wear genuine watertribe clothing in this city besides himself after all—then the large polarbear dog laying at the foot of his steps would be. Even still there is an echo of someone else's back, someone else ponytail swaying in the wind, that he cannot or perhaps does not wish to acknowledge.
When she turns around, quickly rising to her feet, she looks shocked and, he thinks, maybe a little embarrassed but it's hard to tell since it's so dark outside.
"Oh… yeah, it's me… hey Tarrlok. I was beginning to think that you might not be at home."
So they're just going to pretend like this is perfectly normal then?
"As you can see, I'm clearly at home," he says back tentatively, opening his door a bit more, "And hello to you. Are you having a nice… night?"
She brushes imaginary lint from the arms of her parka, "Yeah… it's alright," is all she says before she looks away again.
He almost wants to sigh. This is getting him nowhere, fast.
"Perfect for… pounding on doors and waking people up I presume?"
This catches her attention, she grimaces the slightest bit.
"About that… I'm sorry. I didn't really think this through. I just—you know…"
"Would you like to come in?" he asks, cutting off her nervous rambling, "It's chilly outside," he adds, stepping to the side and taking in her relieved expression.
She nods and after a few words exchanged with her Polarbear dog, she steps inside.
Tarrlok glances out at the street again, making sure it is empty. It wouldn't do for someone to have spotted the avatar entering his home at this time of night. The rumors would be dreadful. It is the same reason that he didn't give her much attention after the raid, not with the media there but with her huge beast of an animal laying across his bottom step he figures it's obvious enough where she is anyway so he just shuts the door gently before locking it.
When he turns around, Korra is no longer in his foyer like he'd been expecting her to be, the way any regular person would have waited before exploring. Instead she has already made it into his living room and is touching some of his things.
"That is quite old and I'd prefer if it didn't fall to pieces," he says, eyeing the old watertribe rug hung on his wall as he walks up behind her. Korra seems to jump, like she'd forgotten he was even here—in his own home—before slowly lowering her hand from it.
"Sorry, it's just my mom has something like that," she says, her eyes still fixed on the soft blues and whites, gazing over it longingly.
And even though Tarrlok has never really experienced the feeling, he knows what homesickness sounds like. He wonders what it must have been like growing up so near to loving parents and yet still so far away. He figures most would think it sad, but mostly, he finds himself feeling envious.
"I was always told the Southern and Northern tribes were nothing alike but I guess not," she continues.
"Actually, that is from the Southern water tribe," he admits, "I travelled around quite a lot before I ended up settling here in Republic City." He does not expound any further than that and he definitely doesn't say that Republic City was the last place he'd ever intended to settle, that once he was afraid that coming here would change him. Sometimes he wonders how he'd ended up here at all.
"Oh… so I guess they are really different then?" Korra questions softly, slowly glancing back at him over her shoulder.
At once Tarrlok has become aware of how dark and quiet the room is, how alone they are—in his home—" They are not as dissimilar as people say…" he answers, "Or at least not in the ways that matter most," he finishes, glancing down into her bright blue southern eyes with his slightly darker northern ones and he now realizes how close they are too.
But then he remembers that she more or less disappeared without a word not more than a few hours ago, so he takes a step backwards as he sighs and rubs at his temples.
"What are you doing here Korra?" he finally asks.
. . .
Korra just stares at him. She's not exactly sure why she'd come to be honest. She'd woken up from one of the worst nightmares that she's had. Equalists had broken in to Air Temple Island and she'd been close to getting away but when she went to go warn Tenzin, when she'd went to try and save them… she had already been too late.
Amon had been standing over Meelo—a child, the youngest—and Meelo had been the last in line.
When she'd woken up, sweaty and frightened, she couldn't even bear to go and check on them all. Would their empty eyes gaze up at her angrily, or would there be disappointment? Which was worse?
Realistically, she knew that it didn't actually happen, that it was a nightmare, and that they'd probably all just ask her if she was okay in the end but she didn't really want to deal with that either. So instead, she'd saddled up Naga and went for a late night ride to try and clear her head. What she'd seen, that was her biggest fear, not that she couldn't save herself but that she would fail everyone else.
The last thing she wants to be is a failure, to fall short as the Avatar.
She'd missed the days when she'd been so sure of herself. When she wasn't facing having to protect an entire city against a person, if you could even call Amon that, who even she… feared. She couldn't remember the last time she hadn't felt weighed down by the obligations that were meant for her.
It wasn't until she'd come upon a street that she'd travelled—more like toured—with Tenzin in her first days in the city, that she remembered. Tenzin had pointed out the residential area where most of the council lived though he'd chosen not to, when he'd pointed to a particular one and said a name she hadn't known at the time, Tarrlok.
And that's when it hit her. The only time since being here in the city that she hadn't felt burdened, had lost herself, was when she'd been making, what she'd been assured of earlier was a mistake, with Tarrlok.
Even during probending she was ultimately trying to improve her modern fighting skills to be a better Avatar.
She just… wanted that contentment so badly, wanted to just fade away and be Korra, just for a little while, and before she'd known it she'd been pounding on Tarrlok's door in the middle of the night.
But now, Korra thinks, she knows why she's here.
And so instead of answering Tarrlok's question, Korra steps forward, closing the distance that he has just created, and is reaching up, entangling her hands in his hair, and pulling him down to her level.
Tarrlok is silently amazed at how strong she is and then she is kissing him.
It is clumsy and forced when he finally gives into it and he wants this badly, wants her, but then he feels the wave of desperation washing off of her and he breaks away. Something isn't right.
"Why are you doing this?" he questions, even as his hands play with the hem of her shirt. Just say that you want to—want this—and I won't stop, he thinks.
She closes her eyes and looks away but still manages to press herself as tight to him as she can. Her voice is low when she speaks.
"Just this once okay? It's just—I dream of him every night—
And at this, Tarrlok straightens a bit further and his hands still. He will not be a replacement for someone that she really wants. No matter how much he craves this girl—this young, dangerous, innocent girl—he has far more pride than that.
Korra seems to notice.
"No, no! Not like that," she stammers, her hands fisting in his robe to keep him near, "I dream of Amon every night, of him trying to… to hurt me, to take my bending away. I have… horrible nightmares and I just…" she looks so confused, and is quiet.
"Look, I know this, me and you is not something we're trying to make permanent," she says silently, but with complete confidence. Tarrlok tries not to flinch at how sure she is.
"How could we? I'm not even sure I'd really even want that but… I felt so content before, with you, I mean. And I haven't felt like that since before Republic City," she continues. "I know I may be asking a lot from you… and you can say no… but tonight I just need that. Tomorrow it can all go back to normal, like it should be. Like this never even happened."
And then she is done talking and Tarrlok is stunned.
She has given him this choice and her bright blue eyes are wide as they turn to look up at him once more. It's strange how open her gaze is. The unpredictable charismatic girl he knows is gone and she seems vulnerable.
He thinks that maybe he should be upset. In essence, she is asking for permission to use him, asking him to let her use him, while knowing that it won't really mean anything to her in the end. He's just something she needs right now.
It's actually quite selfish, Tarrlok realizes, especially since it's obvious that she believes he doesn't want to do this, doesn't want her the way he does.
And yet… Tarrlok doesn't care.
The truth is he's had his own share of nightmares tonight and the memories are still there, lingering in the back of his mind, always haunting, and he knows he'll never feel more content than he does when he's with her.
Maybe they can both just be selfish and Tarrlok knows that this, taking her innocence from her this way, will be exactly that.
It's ironic that He can only find peace with the person he was once trained to destroy.
. . .
Tarrlok grips her chin, none too gently, and then runs his thumb over her bottom lip. He feels her soft exhale against his fingers and catches the breath between his lips, sealing his mouth over hers.
She's never been so limp, so allowing. It seems out of her character but she acquiesces. She's letting him do what he wants and when he jerks on her parka for her to take it off, she does so willingly, releasing a hint of a pleased sigh between them.
He wants her upstairs, wants her in his bed, but taking the time to get there seems daunting, especially when she's rubbing up against him the way she is.
He thinks about the couch but ultimately decides against it. It is in a moment of thoughtlessness that he grips the watertribe rug from the wall behind her head, ripping it down to fall to the floor.
They have to pull away for him to lay it out properly and she jokes, a small laugh leaving her, about him not wanting it to fall to pieces but then she is moving to kneel on it and he follows her down.
Her gaze is a mix of nerves and challenge as she places her hand on the tie of his robe, slowly pulling it undone. He is barechested underneath and he catches her eyes roaming over him before pulling at her to come closer.
Tarrlok has never been a rough lover but this doesn't stop the hand he has placed on her shoulder from pressing her down against the floor as harsh as he does. And when he settles over her, breathing ragged, needy, he doesn't question this either.
Korra grasps the bottom of her shirt, beating him to it, and drags it up and over out of the way, before flinging it as if she is insulted by it. He leans forward, kissing her in a way that makes her mewl against his mouth, her hands pushing at the open fabric of his robe until he fully shrugs it off. And then she is running her hands over his skin. Tarrlok drops to swirl his tongue against her throat.
Korra had already known, in an abstract sense, that Tarrlok was muscular. But now she takes the time to get to know how that feels, the glide of a man's flesh against her fingertips. She runs her hands up his back and around again, memorizes the grooves, the definition, and learns every twitch of muscle that she causes.
It is by pure luck that she thinks to dig her nails in and is rewarded with the heavy press of his hips as he grinds against her. She groans at the heat, the thick hard friction. And now Tarrlok is removing the wraps around her chest—she doesn't have to tell him where the knot is—and as soon as the skin is uncovered he is busying himself, tracing it with his lips.
Feverishly his tongue twirls and suckles, and his mouth finds a spot just under her left breast that makes her wonder how she'd never known she was so sensitive. Her eyes are shut tight and she gasps every time he nibbles when she least expects it. There is an ache growing in the space between her thighs, an ache that's getting harder to ignore and she almost wants to press her own fingers there just to massage it away.
"Stop," she groans, pushing against his shoulders and grabbing the fabric at her hips. Tarrlok does as she asks, sitting back on his knees, silently watching as she wiggles and fights out of her pants. As soon as she can, which is not as soon as she'd like, she is unwinding the wraps around her hips until she is bare in front of him.
Though she is feeling just a little embarrassed, he is taking in her form fixatedly, this doesn't stop her from giving the pants still around his hips a weathered look before giving him a pointed one. Tarrlok just shakes his head no, pushing her back and folding himself over her again.
"I won't unnecessarily hurt you just because you're impatient," he says, almost smug, hand resting low on her stomach. And she is just about to dispute this, he is obviously just not impatient enough, but then his fingers are dipping down, slipping against her and finding that spot, pressing, circling, white-hot, that makes her vision grow blurry so she decides she's okay with being patient if this is what she gets for it.
Inside her mind, she wishes for more and he is kissing the skin just behind her ear, when he finally, slowly, works one finger in. She moans, low, a sound she's never heard herself make, and not too long after that he is biting down on her shoulder and quickly pushing in a second.
His fingers work at her until she's writhing and by the time he goes down on her, Korra has already forgotten how to speak, not that she could have if she wanted to. Her body arches up off the old watertribe rug, pressing herself against his lips. Each sound she makes is met with the vibration of his answering groan and hearing him make sounds like that just makes her more vocal.
When she comes, her first time brought to her peak by someone else, she is shocked by how acute the pleasure is, by how much more sweet and intense and shattering the spike can be and she can't stop herself from gripping his hair, it's the only thing keeping her grounded, as she trembles from the power of it.
Is like floating on air, the first taste of that kind of bending that she's ever had, and she has barely recovered when Tarrlok is tugging on her wrist for her to loosen her grip on his strands. She thinks she hears rustling, and then he's settling over her, kissing her lips softly.
"How do you feel?" His voice is raw-edged, breathless, she vaguely sees him lick his lips.
"Great," she answers, almost immediately, and he grins at her a little.
"That's wonderful Korra, but I meant are you ready?"
She looks down in the space between them and finds that Tarrlok has finally removed the rest of his clothing. Korra has never seen a naked man before, and certainly not an aroused one, but suddenly she is feeling emptier than ever, like her body fully understands what comes next even though she's never experienced it. She is more than ready, if not a little anxious as well, and so she looks back up at him, and nods her head to continue.
Tarrlok looks at her as he kneels, watching for signs on her face, and when he pushes into her, she throws her arms around his neck and drags him in further. Korra cringes, she's not willing to cry out or whimper, although each of these sounds are bubbling up in her throat, and it hurts, but more than that it is strange, feeling that heavy press within her.
He stills until she says that she's okay.
And then he's moving slow, pulling out and sliding back in, but with each rock of his hips the pain is dying down and something else is beginning to build. Korra, mind blank except for her focus on the hint of that feeling, thrusts up, anchoring herself to him and moans when she feels the pleasure spread. With the pain gone, it is amazing.
Tarrlok groans, quick about it now, grasps her hips and speeds up, taking over with a rhythm that quickly makes Korra's toes curl. And she closes her eyes, continuing to throw her hips up to meet him, basking in the overwhelmingness, in the spot he keeps hitting that forces sparks to blaze under her skin and shudders to wrack her body.
Korra becomes aware that the high keening noises she hears are falling from her lips, unable to stop them, and one of Tarrlok's hands is kneading her breasts.
Korra can't breathe, reaches up and pushes Tarrlok's hair out of his face. They lock eyes.
It is all so much, too much, but Korra still wants more.
"Let me," she says breathlessly, already shifting, pushing against one shoulder to tip them over.
Tarrlok let's her, pulls her to him for one heartbreakingly passionate kiss, crushing her against his chest. This is exactly what she'd wanted. She feels free, in control, herself. She feels light as if all of her obligations don't exist and then she's sitting back, settling down on him fully. He's deeper like this and Korra stalls, has to find the right way to go about it.
Tarrlok catches her eyes. "Take your time," he says, panted words genuine, and yet this is precisely what spurs Korra on to do exactly the opposite. She smirks a little, almost playful.
She rides him, hard, hands pressing into his chest, giving her the leverage to roll her hips just right. She can feel his heart beating beneath her palms and Tarrlok grips her thighs, releasing a strangled noise from his throat that makes her shiver, so she rolls her hips harder.
Soon, she can feel him bring his knees up behind her and she reaches back, grasping his thighs, arching her spine. He grabs her hips almost painfully tight, and thrusts, hard and fast, dragging her down as he pushes up and she screams.
Tarrlok hesitates. Exhaling hard.
"Don't stop!" she begs, digging her nails into his skin and gasping.
The second time he thrusts up, it's harder, and they grow progressively stronger, again and again, until Korra is choking on her own moans. It could not get any better, could not possibly feel any better, and then he reaches down, sliding a hand from her hip and pressing a thumb against that spot, and suddenly it does.
Korra cries out, jerking out of rhythm, and it's like being forced out of her own body, like she's falling. It feels so good that it blurs the line between pleasure and pain. And she almost wants to cry. Tarrlok thrusts into her one more time, tensing beneath with a guttural sound, and Korra is vaguely aware of the pulsing and the foreign heat that spreads inside her.
She collapses and falls against his chest, listens to him catching his breath as she tries to catch hers. His arms wrap around her waist loosely and she pushes her face to his jaw, pressing a small kiss grabs her a little tighter. All the strength in their forms is gone and they lay there, relaxed, for many minutes.
And then Korra remembers.
Slowly, she rolls off him to the side, and sighs gently, sitting up.
She's quiet for a few seconds.
"Thank you," she whispers. She doesn't know if this is the right thing to say or if there even is one but she has to say something, now that it's… over.
Tarrlok doesn't answer and she wonders if he didn't hear what she'd said but when she twists around to look, he is staring at her with an expression that she can't place, and this somehow makes her nervous.
"I mean… for doing this. For—
"I know," he says, voice unreadable but soft. He glances away, "You're welcome Korra."
She turns, still feeling like she should explain herself about something, and starts to get up but Tarrlok grabs her arm, pulling her to lie back down.
And then he has taken his fingers and splayed them over her stomach, tracing a gentle path down until he is flicking what he has pulled out onto the rug.
"Oh," she says, slightly embarrassed, "… I forgot. Thank you."
He just nods at her.
When they both get up; her getting fully dressed and fixing her hair, him pulling just his robe back on, it is silent.
He walks her to his front door and just before she's about to walk out, she turns around.
"So I'll see you tomorrow?" she says urgently, looking up at him, "At the press conference I mean?"
He gives her a very small smile, "Of course," he answers simply, tipping his head, to which she responds with a dazzling grin.
"Okay then," her eyes are a little confused but happy. He's glad that she's feeling better, "Bye Tarrlok."
And then she is getting up onto her beast of a polardog and riding off.
. . .
It is as he watches her fade away, leaving him and knowing that this was their first and last time, that Tarrlok acknowledges who she reminds him of. It is strange to consider this after what they have just done but in so many ways she is just like his brother was.
Noatak, the prodigy, and Korra, the Avatar; both growing up with mirrored expectations of each other. He was meant to be her foe and she is meant to stop anyone like him. They honestly even resemble each other when he thinks about it and as with when his brother left, he feels just a little bit emptier. Tarrlok knows he will miss her too.
…He just hopes that he won't grow to resent her for leaving as well.
The next day, Korra challenges Amon to a duel.
And the day after that she quits Tarrlok's taskforce altogether.