Title: The Trophy Wife
Fandom: The Legend of Korra
Characters/Pairings: Everyone; Amorra, Masami
Author's Note: The first of the bi-weekly updates. Also, there's a random Serenity reference.
In which the narrative bounces around a bit due to family time, Amon and Korra spar for shits and giggles, and shenanigans ensue.
As always, thanks to my wonderful beta, Relic.
Dinner was a relatively low key affair. Noatak and Tarrlok hardly spoke, opting instead to listen to everyone else. Conversation covered a variety of topics, from the progress of Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo's training to Korra's experience with pro-bending. It was an enlightening experience for Noatak, to hear what the sport was about from those who played it. He'd often been disgusted by the rather blatant display of bending, thinking it nothing more than a flashy demonstration for benders to flaunt the abilities that the spirits had blessed them with for personal gain.
"I know it seems crazy, but it helped me learn the airbending forms," Korra explained to her uncle, who had been rather dubious about her joining the Fire Ferrets. "You have to keep light on your feet in pro-bending, otherwise you're an easy target for a knock-out. I was stuck in zone three and I just started doing the spiral walk. Saved our butts."
"She didn't even look like the same player who started the match," Bolin exclaimed. "She was a total natural!"
"Yeah, I've never seen anyone take to pro-bending quite like Korra," Mako agreed. "Once she found her rhythm, she was a beast."
"Oh I don't know," Korra laughed nervously. "I think I did okay."
"You did more than okay," Asami grinned. "Most pro-benders have been using the style for years. Your bending is far more traditional, it's not a switch many can make."
"I believe that pro-bending turned out to be the ideal teaching tool for your airbending," Tenzin said. "However, without the basic knowledge of airbending, I doubt you would have been able to adjust as quickly as you did."
"Oh, I dunno, bending has always been second nature to me," Korra shrugged.
"I'll say," Tonraq laughed. "She figured out how to earthbend and firebend without any formal training."
"Of course, she nearly wrecked the house in the process," Senna added, causing the room to erupt in laughter.
"Have I apologized for that recently, because I am really sorry I almost caused the roof to cave in," Korra said sheepishly, ducking her head and blushing.
"She was quite the waterbending student," Katara said. "So eager to learn everything I could teach her. I think she was rather disappointed when I told her she had learned everything."
"Well not everything," Korra chuckled nervously, "but I think that it's understandable why you wouldn't teach me that."
No one needed to know that the "that" in question was bloodbending. Very few people were formally taught the technique, but many had learned it through sheer determination.
"Anyway, I've learned all the forms for airbending, I just haven't been able to do anything with it," Korra sighed. "I wish I knew what my problem is."
"You'll get there eventually," Katara said kindly. "Aang had plenty of trouble learning earthbending and firebending."
"Was he unable to do either?" Korra grumbled.
"Aang wasn't confrontational or aggressive," Katara explained gently. "His initial attempts at earthbending resulted in nothing. Toph was less than pleased. In terms of firebending, after he accidentally burned me with it, he refused to learn it. Zuko had to spend a lot of time working with him to get him to even attempt it."
"So, what does that say about me?" Korra whined.
"You're the opposite of Aang in nearly every way, Korra," Katara said. "There's nothing wrong with that, either. The air nomads were extremely spiritual, so that side came easily to him. That you struggle with the spiritual side is nothing against you. Each Avatar walks their own path, and has their own struggles so that they may be the best Avatar they can possibly be."
"Well, I guess I don't feel like a total failure now," Korra shrugged.
"You know, I'd really like to see your airbending training," Unalaq said, leaning so he could look at Tenzin. "Granted Master Tenzin isn't against it."
Glancing at the fading sunlight out the window, Tenzin shrugged. "I see no reason why we can't do a demonstration. We've all finished eating, haven't we?"
"I'm done," Bolin said as he patted his belly. "Delicious dinner, by the way. I love Water Tribe food."
"I'm glad you enjoyed it," Katara laughed. "I miss cooking for Team Avatar."
"Gran-Gran, did you really do all of the cooking when you were traveling?" Ikki asked.
"All of it. My brother couldn't cook, and neither could your grandfather. Zuko could cook in a pinch, but he had a tendency to make things very spicy or burn them," Katara answered. "Obviously, Toph couldn't cook, and Suki had never had to cook before. I think it was for the best that I cooked, or else we would have starved."
Everyone laughed as they rose and followed Tenzin out to the training gates. "We use these gates to help students learn the spiral movements that are so predominate in airbending." With a few gestures of his hand, Tenzin sent a large gust of wind at the gates, setting them turning with a soft whirring noise. "Korra, please demonstrate."
With a deep breath she approached the gates and then entered, spiraling through gracefully, arms poised as if she were dancing. This was a side of bending that Amon had long forgotten, something he buried along with Noatak. The graceful forms moving as if they were dancing and not destroying. She came out on the back side of the gates where Ikki and Jinora waited, who started the gates once more and Korra made her way back through, spinning gracefully to avoid the spinning panels, her movements free like air and fluid like water. Exiting the gates she planted her feet and stood straight, a sheepish smile on her face when her family broke into applause.
"Oh, that was nothing," she nervously laughed, absently rubbing the back of her neck.
"You looked like an airbender," Katara observed with a smile.
"Well, you know how it is," Korra said with a goofy grin. "I am a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar."
Stepping towards the gates, Noatak started to examine them. "Exactly what does this accomplish? I saw a lot of spinning and twirling, but what is the purpose?"
"Perhaps a demonstration is in order," Tenzin said. "Mako or Bolin? Would one of you like to spar with Korra?"
"If you don't mind, I'll do it," Noatak said as he easily slid into stance. Mako and Bolin exchanged a glance, but didn't object to him usurping their position.
Korra had only ever fought against him once, and even then she had only attacked him for the sake of distracting him. In the end it had been a futile attempt, as during her escape she'd tripped over a tree root and he'd easily caught up to her. Perhaps, though, the airbending movements would be to her advantage. She wouldn't be able to bend and really, the whole point was to avoid using attacks at all. With a small smile, she gave a respectful bow before sliding into a stance as well.
They circled each other, rather like two rivals about to face off. Ultimately he moved first, stepping forward so fast that Korra almost didn't notice. She quickly stepped out of reach, and then spent the next ten minutes of their spar gracefully dancing out of the way of any of his attacks.
"Are you even trying?" she asked as she managed to evade yet another hit from him.
"Why would I hold back?" he replied through gritted teeth. "We never did get a chance to properly fight each other."
"Would you have used your bending?" she asked as she twirled away from him.
"I wouldn't have needed to," he said with a cocky smile.
Korra raised an eyebrow at that, but didn't bother to say what was on the tip of her tongue about his confessing to using bloodbending to subtly manipulate his opponents. They continued their dance of hit and miss for five more minutes before he finally stopped, hands up in defeat. Smirking triumphantly, she stomped her foot to rattle the ground beneath him, causing Noatak stumble a bit, but not send him sprawling.
Glaring at her, he recovered his balance and straightened up. "Well, that was enlightening."
"You don't have any experience against airbending," Korra said with a smug smile. "You've seen earthbending and firebending, and of course you're very well acquainted with waterbending. But airbending? Forget it. You're not prepared to handle it."
"So you say. But after I study you a bit I'll find a weakness, a flaw," he said smoothly as he straightened his clothing.
"Pft, sure," Korra snickered. "If you say so, old man."
"Ooooh," Bolin crooned softly, looking between Korra and Noatak with a worried expression on his face.
"I'll show you old. How about a waterbending match, little girl," he taunted back.
"Bring it," Korra said. "Down at the beach. Let's go."
"You could also go down to the lagoon," Katara suggested. "It's where Kya and I trained."
Korra looked at her master with a questioning look. "There's a lagoon?"
Turning towards her youngest son, Katara gave him a surprised glance. "You didn't tell her that she could practice her waterbending down at the lagoon?"
"It never came up, Mother," Tenzin answered. "Shortly after arriving here she joined the pro-bending team. She practiced her waterbending with them."
"I knew I should have told you," Katara muttered as she started to walk away. "This way. The lagoon is perfect for a spar. I have to admit, I'm interested to see how this battle will go." She looked over her shoulder at Noatak. "Your mother says that you're quite the talented bender. A true prodigy. Just so you know, Korra's one of the best students I've ever trained. I don't think this will be as easy as you think."
Tarrlok snorted softly somewhere towards the back of the group, but he said nothing. He'd seen Korra in action and knew she wasn't an opponent to be taken lightly. Though her movements reflected her preference for sheer power, she could still move with the agility and grace of a waterbender, commanding her element to her will. It would be interesting to see his brother waterbend again, and see how well he held up against Korra.
Once on the beach of the lagoon, Katara settled herself on the edge of the concrete patio that surrounded the pavilion where the waterbenders could change and warm up during the colder months in Republic City. The others settled themselves around her and waited for Korra and Noatak to start their spar.
"How long has it been since you've had a proper battle with your waterbending?" he asked casually as he pushed and pulled the water at the edge of the lagoon, getting a feeling for the element once more.
"Probably a lot more recently than you have," she snarked back as she twirled a rope of water around her. Without warning she sent the whip at him, smacking him hard against his right bicep.
He glared at her, but all she did was give him a cocky smirk in return. Well then, so be it. If she wanted a fight, he would give her a fight. With movements he couldn't forget even if he tried, he summoned a wave from the lagoon and sent it flying at her. Raising her arms and twitching her fingers, the wave froze before she liquefied it, made it into several icicles, and sent it careening back at him. Ducking and dodging, he avoided the icicles as he formed a whip of water that he sent to bind her ankles and trip her. Korra, however, noticed what he was doing and summoned a large wave to crash over him from behind, breaking his concentration before he could get the whip even halfway towards her. With quick movements of his arms, he parted the wave and manipulated into two large whips, much larger than anything Korra had ever used, and she liked using large amounts of her element.
Widening her stance and planting her feet firmly on the sand, she pulled water up around her legs and froze it up to her knee to keep her in place. As the deluge of water hit her, she immediately redirected as much as she could back at him in multiple waterwhips.
He laughed at her. "Is that all you've got, little girl?" he taunted.
Gritting her teeth, Korra reached out and summoned as much water to her as she could. Taking the octopus form, she manipulated the arms into several sharp attacks. Raising his arms to deflect the blows, he took the attack for a few seconds before pulling the water into a sphere around him and then started punching out icicles at her. Korra merely smirked at him. "Is that all you've got, old man? I've seen that move before, you know."
Noatak's gaze quickly flicked to Tarrlok who lifted his shoulders in a slight shrug. It was time to go big or go home. Freezing the water on the surface of the lagoon, he slid out and waited for her to follow. With a large grin she made her own ice path towards him. She skated towards him at a rapid pace, but when she was no more than five feet in front of him she let the ice beneath her feet melt and dropped into the water with a small splash. Smirking, Noatak melted the ice beneath him and joined her underwater, just in time for her to send a current whizzing past his head. The force of the water caused his hair to swirl into his eyes, temporarily blinding him. It was just the opening Korra needed.
Relying on the power inherent in the Avatar, Korra reached out to all of the water in the lagoon, bringing it under her control. With a mighty push she sent the water towards the beach and the cliff face behind it, freezing it right before Noatak would have collided with the rock.
The result was quite comical, with Noatak frozen upside down, his hair dripping into quickly forming icicles. There was a rather incredulous look on his face, as if he couldn't quite comprehend that he had just been frozen to a wall by a mere child. Admittedly it had been years since he had allowed himself to properly bend water, but it hadn't taken him long to get back into the rhythm of it. It wasn't possible that he had underestimated Korra's abilities; he knew she was resourceful and strong and had planned accordingly.
So why was he the one frozen to the side of a cliff, hanging upside down?
Emerging from the water, Korra looked like some sort of otherworldly creature. It was the second time that evening that he had been reminded that she wasn't just any girl from the Water Tribe, but the Avatar. He was fascinated by the water that dripped from her wet hair down her face, until it dropped off of her chin and was absorbed by her clothing. Indeed there was a very old soul in that young body of hers, even if it didn't show most of the time.
"So, old man, had enough?" she asked, her hands on her hips and a cocky grin on her face.
He twitched a few times before the ice melted and flooded the beach, flowing back into the lagoon and depositing him head first at her feet. He looked up at her with what he hoped with a stern glare. "You got lucky this time, Avatar," he growled at her, but the corners of his mouth were twitched up in the barest hint of a smile. "A mere child like you would normally be no match for me."
"Uh-huh," she smirked. "If you say so." Stepping so she was standing in front of him, she offered Noatak her hand. "C'mon, let's get dried off and go home. I'm tired."
Taking it, he allowed her to pull him to his feet. At the last second he tugged her forward and against him, quickly hefting her up and over his shoulder, carrying her as if she was a sack of potatoes.
"What are you doing?" she squawked in protest, slamming her fist into the middle of his back. "Let me go, you oaf!"
"Quite down, little girl," he chuckled darkly. "All is fair in love and war, you know."
Everyone else laughed.