She was wild, filled with an insatiable hunger that seemed to possess her whole. It was uncommon for him to see her like this. He had never been able to discern a pattern to it, but he would never dare to complain.
Her bright blue gaze smouldered with heat in the brief moments where their eyes met, her dark brown hair lying strewn across the pillow. She clung to him fiercely, hands roving along his shoulders as her nails raked his skin. Her legs were crossed at his back, her calves pressing into his sides as she pulled him forwards. Her grunts and groans were shameless as she ground their hips together, craving him with every fibre of her being. They kissed with passionate fury, lips haphazardly crashing against each other, tongues at war in a bid for dominance. And she was winning.
He knew he didn't stand a chance when she was like this. She grabbed him bodily and dragged him towards the edge. It didn't matter even if he wanted otherwise. He may have been the one to pin her to the mattress, but there was no question as to who was ravishing whom. She threatened to steal his sanity, plunging him into a world so visceral, so real that his senses would scream and flee in seven different directions. His muscles – his whole body – tightened, locking up as she clung to him and drew a deep, earthy groan from his lips. In the midst of the thick haze of pleasure that encompassed them it was a beautiful sound, swiftly joined by another. Her voice was loud, strong, trembling only when it had run its course and her arms and legs slowly loosened around him.
He flopped down next to her, staring up at the dark ceiling as the corners of his vision blurred intermittently and his chest rose and fell, glistening with a sheen of sweat. It was a long moment before he regained the powers of speech, though even when he did it cost more energy than he had readily available to produce a coherent sentence.
"Korra…what…you…" he panted before giving up and shaking his head. His body was telling him to shut up and give it a moment (or many) to recuperate after what she had just subjected it to, yet it was kind enough to offer him a single word that encapsulated how he felt.
"Wow," he breathed simply.
She smirked in response, and then she started to laugh. It was a soft sound at first, but quickly grew to its typical volume as she continued. He didn't know what she was finding so funny, but perhaps that was the point. The sound of her voice was infectious, and it didn't take long before he was grinning like an idiot as he listened to it. Pushing an arm behind his head, he turned to look at her as she eventually grew quiet, giving a soft chuckle as she dabbed tears from the corners of her eyes.
Four years and change – that was how long they had been together. Mako had made it his mission to learn her mannerisms, to be able to divulge her thoughts without her having to speak. It was a lengthy, often tricky process and though he considered himself fluent in the language of her body, she sometimes liked to throw him a curveball. He wondered if she did so intentionally at times.
She lay upon the bed, comfortably naked with the thin beige sheets drawn lazily up to her hips. He looked on as the soft orange light from the streetlights filtered through the windows and her dark skin glimmered with the sheen of post-coital sweat. He watched her throat pulse as she swallowed much needed air and watched her tongue trace the line of her lips, savouring the taste of him. He couldn't help himself from lifting his fingers to her flesh, lightly ghosting his touch down the length of her arm.
"So," he said, finally managing to regain the strength to speak. "What's gotten into you?"
"We haven't seen each other properly in almost a week," she replied. "Barely have the time to say hello, let alone spend a night together."
"I think we just more than made up for it."
"Oh, I wouldn't say so," she said, turning her face to him with a devious grin. "Unless I've worn you out already."
"Korra, I'm not too proud to admit that you've done quite the number on me," he said, painting a look of concern on his face. "Perhaps even lasting damage."
"You'll survive, City Boy." She lifted her head and draped her shadow over him, her hair falling to brush along his cheek as their lips softly met.
"It's your city now, too," he told her when they parted.
She returned her head to the pillow with a sigh. "So it seems. And everyone wants a piece of me."
"I'd hope not."
"Oh, shut up," she said harmlessly, lifting an arm and almost mirroring him as she rested her forearm at her brow. Mako's eyes dipped and took in the generous profile of her chest.
"Four years," she spoke quietly. "Four years since I became the Avatar in truth. Four years since I returned to the city eager to bless tortured souls and reunite them with their bending. I didn't imagine then that I would find myself where I am today."
Mako didn't say anything. The tone of her voice was one he recognised, that she simply wanted to speak, to unlock her heart and allow her thoughts to spill unadulterated from her lips.
"I'm not the optimistically naïve girl who came back from the South Pole, you know? I sometimes can't believe how willing I was back then to return bending to everyone. It's a cruel turn of luck that certain folk were born with the ability to bend, and if it hadn't been for the Council stepping in, well, I would have happily handed it right back to them. Funny then, that despite knowing my own desperation when I lost my bending, I didn't imagine the lengths people would go to get theirs back."
He watched her shake her head as she smirked at the irony of it all, but it was not one of amusement. He could hear the frustration in her voice.
"Ha. Taking me to court on grounds of discrimination. Spirits," she cursed. "I sometimes why I make myself suffer this nonsense. I have to listen to these people attempt to make a claim as to why my withholding their bending is unlawful, as though they wouldn't turn around the moment afterwards and resume committing the crimes they were given free rein to before Amon's revolution."
"Then why do you?" he prompted. He had heard these thoughts from her before, but he would allow her to repeat them to him to ease the frustration and annoyance pressing against the corners of her mind. Lately, it was becoming a more common practice.
She shrugged. "I'm the Avatar, aren't I? I have to represent myself fairly and give the people the chance to do the same, regardless of whom or what they are."
"They why continue to go through the motions?" he said. "Surely they can't force you to keep hearing these pleas?"
This was where she would sigh, sometimes confessing to him that she didn't know why and at others reiterating to him her responsibilities as the Avatar. However, this time was different and her tone was sour when she spoke.
"It appears that certain criminals have a particular brand of clout with the powers that be," she said.
Mako wrinkled his brow. "What do you mean?"
"Come on, surely you're not as slow as I once was. Why is it that people such as Lightning Bolt Zolt have appeared in court demanding that I return to them their bending and they have not been taken in by the police? Did Republic City forget all that they did prior to Amon?"
"We can't just take in people like him – big time players – on a whim," Mako told her. "There's a process, and it gets all the more complicated the deeper into their world you want to look."
"Right," Korra said plainly. "A process."
"Solid evidence, witnesses willing to testify, financial accounts that verify where their money is coming from and what uses it's being put to," Mako reeled off. "We need all of that, and more."
"Solid evidence? The homes and livelihoods of innocent people burned to ashes isn't enough? The countless crimes committed against non-benders before and persistently after Amon isn't enough?"
"Those things add up to a stronger case we can eventually make against them," Mako argued. "Otherwise we'd be locking up people like Zolt for a day and change and watching them walk free by the end of the week."
"I see," Korra said. "But it's apparently much simpler for you to round up and throw suspected Equalists behind bars."
The bed groaned as Mako sat up. "What does that mean? You're saying that as though we're tossing people into the back of vans on a whim. It's the extremists who pose a real danger to the welfare of the people that we're after."
In the wake of the revelation that Amon had been not only a bender but one wielding an outlawed form of bending, the anti-bending movement had appeared to fall apart, its momentum halting with jarring suddenness. It had seemed as though the Equalists would merely fade into the memories of the people and serve as an appropriate warning for future generation. However, within a year the movement had begun to gain traction once more, this time actively seeking to legitimize itself.
What they sought was a much broader and more politically and socially focused goal. They wanted reforms, gaining enough influence over the years to push pro-Equalist bills before the eyes of the city's lawmakers, demanding equal opportunities in several domains and pushing in particular for a non-bending arm of the police force and more representatives in the city's political arena. Only once the re-established Equalist movement began to truly take shape was it made clear how unfairly balanced the city was in favour of benders, a trend that spread right through the many layers of the city.
Yet despite this apparently legitimate push for change, there still existed groups within the movement more attuned with violence than policy. The Equalists were, after all, born at the hands of a man who desired to inflict change upon the city. Mako, after having joined the police force shortly after Amon's defeat, quickly proved himself to be a dedicated and effective officer and was offered the opportunity to work his way up the ladder. He was at present a detective, established in a department dedicated solely to investigating the more extremist arm of the Equalist movement.
"What I mean is that I find it strange that the police can, with complete competence, trace a shipment of explosives halfway across the city and arrest the woman apparently in possession of them on the spot," Korra spoke without looking at him, "but to lock up men infamous for their continued violence against non-benders is a problem."
Mako's expression darkened at her words. "So you're saying, what, that the police force is really in the hands of such people? That we're all bought and paid for?" He gave a casual gesture, waving his hand nonchalantly. "We pick and choose the week's next catch from the city's stock?"
Her eyes closed and a tense silence stretched between them. The bed dipped and its springs whispered as Korra moved, sliding her legs out from beneath the sheets and lowering her feet to the ground. She stood without looking back at him, moving over to the small desk he kept not too far from the window. There was a clear jug of water sitting at its corner and he watched as she turned and lightly rested the back of her thighs and the heel of her right palm against the edge of the table, lifting her left hand. Quietly, the water rose from its container, curving upwards towards Korra's palm in a thin, unbroken string until the jug was left half empty. The direction that the orange light of the lamps lining the street filtered into the room left Korra's bare form dappled with shadows, the strong lines of her shoulders and flat stomach along with the softer curving slope of her chest seeming to meld into darkness.
The silence persisted as he watched her bend. He couldn't see her expression clearly, but he could see the shapes and patterns within the water. It moved carefully through the air, forming wide, contemplative loops that evolved into spiralling lines. Her hand moved slowly, the sound of the water merely a whisper as she manipulated its shape, producing soft, unbroken patterns. He saw her apology coming before he heard it.
"I'm sorry, Mako," she said quietly. "I'm just frustrated."
"What is it, really?" he asked. "What's bothering you?"
She looked up towards the window. "The women."
Without context, it was an answer that would have made no sense to him; however, he understood immediately what she was referring to. Over the past several weeks, three women had been discovered dead, their bodies mutilated by means of fire. It was apparent from the first instance that the murderer was a firebender. The bodies had turned up on the fringes of areas known to be controlled by the Triple Threat Triad, and thus they were immediately suspected. However, the degree and nature of the violence inflicted upon the victims was one previously unheard of and had done much to rattle the city. It had affected Korra too.
"Did you know they were all Water Tribe women?" she said quietly. "It can't be a coincidence. But why?"
"Whoever is doing this, and for whatever sick reason," Mako said firmly, "they'll be found soon enough. You don't have to worry about it, Korra."
She glanced at him. "I don't? I'm the Avatar, Mako. The people of this city are supposed to be able to depend on me to protect them, but instead I am stuck in the courtroom listening to the prattle of lawyers, or stuck in an office having the benefits of cracking down on the Equalist movement through legislative processes explained in thorough detail to me. If I'm not there, I'm at Air Temple Island having Tenzin lecture me about the ways and means of the Spirit World, or drilling airbending philosophies into my head."
She sighed, shaking her head. "I should be out there, protecting the city. Stopping people from doing such…madness."
"That's what the police force is for, Korra," Mako said gently. She wasn't reassured. He could tell by the grimace that rose briefly to her face.
"I suppose," she said simply, seeking to avoid reigniting the argument. "I just want to help, Mako. That's all."
"You have to trust us to do our part," he said as he watched her unravel the loops and spirals and form a wide, slowly revolving sphere of the water she was bending. "You can't be here, there and everywhere, Korra, even if you are the Avatar."
She only hummed in response to his words, an ambiguous sound that he couldn't decipher as she then carefully pooled the water back into the jug. Her footsteps were light as she returned back to the bed and she lay close to him as he drew the covers over the both of them. He leaned forward to kiss her and though she responded, it was half-hearted. They fell asleep not long afterwards.
Korra awoke to find him almost halfway out the front door. The sound of feet pacing quickly across the floor graced her ears, punctuated by the clatter of crockery in the kitchenette and the rustle and metallic screech of hands pushing through the contents of a wardrobe. She pulled herself from the realm of dreams into the land of the living just before he laid a warm hand to her shoulder and gently shook her awake. His voice sounded as though he was standing on the other side of the street trying to get her attention as she slowly cracked open her eyes.
"Mako?" she said, turning her eyes down and through her bleary vision seeing him dressed for work. "Already?"
"I'm sorry," he apologised quickly. "I have to go in. A runner came by not too long ago. There's been a breakthrough in the case."
Korra frowned, lifting a hand to shield her eyes against the sunlight filtering through the window. "We hardly spent…" she began, but then her voice trailed off into a defeated sigh and she merely nodded. She tilted her face as he leaned forward and kissed her.
"I know. I'm sorry," he said again, straightening after touching his lips to her brow.
She returned her head to the pillow and watched him stride over to front door, quickly slotting his feet into the dark, polished shoes patiently lying in wait for their masters. He flashed a smile over his shoulder and she lifted a hand from beneath the sheets to return his wave before he lifted two sets of keys from their hooks and slipped out into the city's embrace. Korra closed her eyes, though all intention to fall back to sleep had long since fled from her. She threw her forearm to her brow once more and grumbled dispassionately.
They had been together for four years, and in that time they had both been forced by various circumstances to grow and behave more maturely than their respective years dictated. Korra was twenty-one, and yet when people heard her speak and saw the way she carried herself they found it difficult to believe that was her age. Korra herself found it difficult to grasp at times how much she had matured from the feisty, hot-headed Water Tribe girl who had landed illegally on the shores of Republic City four years prior.
When she listened to herself speak in the courtroom or during meetings with Council members and the figureheads of the police force, she was sure that she was channelling the knowledge and expertise of Avatars in her past lives. She had managed to grasp the city's political domain to a more competent degree than she could possibly have dreamed, and she could not understate how important such knowledge was for her. But it was as though the price she paid for learning the intricacies of the system was for the few hours of freedom she could claim as her own to be wrangled from her grasp. There were more meetings with the Council she was required to attend, particularly as the Equalists' influence grew and the success of their pushing for changes in policy became more probable.
She and Mako had known that the lives they would eventually have to lead would make it difficult for them to spend meaningful time together. He had expressed his desire to join the police force soon after they had returned from the South Pole. It had seemed sudden and unbidden, but Korra soon came to understand that it was born from a desire to make a difference in the city, not only to ensure that such events as Amon's destructive movement were not repeated but also to protect those he could relate to, those who were forced to grow up on the hard streets he and his brother had survived. He was passionate about his work and confident in the abilities of the police force and his colleagues. It wasn't long after he had joined their ranks that Korra began to hear him defending what he stood for against the frequent public cry of dissatisfaction and incompetence. She remembered how heated his voice had threatened to become when she challenged him the night before.
Opening her eyes, Korra turned her gaze to the window, looking beyond the elevated line of the city to the sky beyond. They had known that maintaining a relationship between them would be difficult given the responsibilities they would have to bear, but there was never a doubt that they would do it anyway. In the optimism of being a fresh, new couple, they had made the promises that all young couples in similar circumstances make: work and their respective responsibilities would never become more important to them than each other. However, in the last few months especially, it seemed that such things were taking over their lives, individually and otherwise. There was hardly a moment that they could enjoy in each other's company. If she wasn't pulled away to meetings with the council or White Lotus representatives, Mako was drawn away by a case, an investigation, a breakthrough.
His apartment was nothing fancy, in fact in terms of square feet, it was smaller than the attic space he and his brother had shared above the Pro-Bending Arena. When Korra wasn't resting her head at the Air Temple, she was to be found here. On the hook besides the door hung a set of keys for her and some of her clothes occupied a small portion of his wardrobe. She as good as lived here and yet the topic had never been properly discussed between them. Mako had handed her keys to the apartment one day without prompt or pomp as though it were the most natural thing in the world to have done, telling her to come and go when she wanted. When she had asked him for his reasoning, he had simply shrugged and told her he thought it would be more convenient for her when she needed to attend meetings in the city.
Shading her eyes against the sunlight, Korra was reminded that she was still not a morning person. At the same time, she remembered that she was to meet with the Council and Chief of Police today. At the thought, she was tempted to merely curl up beneath the sheets and wait until a set of keys jangled in the lock. It frustrated her that she and Mako had barely been able to spend a night together before circumstances whisked them away from each other. Sometimes it bothered her that he seemed so willing to be called back to his job; she always went with a heavy sigh and much reluctance. If she attempted to stay away from the meeting then they would simply come and get her instead. If she was not at Air Temple Island, they knew where she was. Korra dragged herself out of bed.
She later appraised herself in the body length mirror propped against a wall, wondering not for the first time why Mako didn't just attach it to said wall. After her subsequent return to Republic City from the South Pole, it had occurred to her both that her attire wasn't comfortably suited to the climate and that she desired to look as suave as many of the citizens she passed by daily. This she soon opted to replace the thick, traditional Water Tribe garments in favour of lighter materials.
At the back of an aqua-blue long-sleeved vest, which was cool and light upon her skin, was stitched an emblem formed of the symbols representing the four elements, and she wore thinner, less baggy trousers of a much darker hue of blue. Over this simple ensemble she would generally don a long, thin coat similar to the one Mako had worn before he had taken up the uniform of a police officer, the line of bronze coloured buttons wrapping around to her right side. It was of a darker hue of grey than his had been, practically black he had told her when she once argued the technicalities with him. As a representation of her heritage, the emblem of the Southern Water Tribe sat proudly above her heart.
Unbound, her hair fell past her shoulders and though Mako often encouraged her to wear it just like that, for practicality's sake she continued to fashion it into a long tail that sat high at the back of her head. She gathered her hair into her hands to do so now, afterwards recovering her coat which was draped over the back of the chair at Mako's desk. Tidying up after herself, Korra moved over to the trio of hooks and retrieved her key, locking the door behind her as she stepped out of the apartment.
Waiting on the street outside the tall residential block was a sleek, jet-black Satomobile, its driver lounging casually at the front seat. Korra couldn't help but smirk and shake her head when she saw him.
"What is this, a courtesy call?" she said as she approached the side of the vehicle. "Just passing through the neighbourhood and decided to stop by and say hello, Takka?"
"Aye, ma'am," the man replied, tipping his hat to her. "Here to wish you the best of mornings."
"Wonderful," Korra said. "Well, if that is all…?"
"And to deliver you speedily to City Hall, ma'am," Takka supplied.
"Of course," she said, her smile somewhat fading. "And stop calling me 'ma'am', Takka."
Why do I bother? She thought wearily as she pulled open the door and stepped into the Satomobile, feeling the eyes of the city already upon her as they moved away.
"So, let me get this straight," Korra said, splaying the fingers of her left hand and spreading the portfolios across the table-top. "You want me to return bending to these members of the Agni Kai."
She looked up from the black and white photographs of each of the men to the faces of the five Council members, the Chief of Police and his advocate sitting around the table. Feng, Chief Saikhan's successor, happened to be positioned directly opposite her, and his steel-grey eyes were narrowed as she lifted her own to meet them. He was a hard man, one who exercised his authority without hesitance and one very much used to having his word go unquestioned. Korra, however, was among one of the few who could do just that.
"Once I do that," she continued, "these men will then return to their masters and be put to task once more. They will resume their crimes against non-benders and their establishments for which they have previously been taken in by the Police. This time, however, you intend to follow the breadcrumb trail of these men, using them as bait to expose the upper ranks of the Agni Kais. You believe the triad is experiencing great turmoil because there is a threat of a violent change in leadership, courtesy of Amon removing their bending."
"As you say," Feng managed to squeeze out from behind a small yet clearly forced smile.
Korra glanced down at the portfolios. "These men are noteworthy in particular because of their excessive inclination towards violence, and you want me to give them the means to cause even more damage."
"We have been keeping tabs on those men, Avatar Korra," Feng's advocate spoke, filling the chamber with his smooth, calculating tone. "They represent an important layer of the Agni Kais that is in direct contact with a number of its key players. We will be quite able to track their comings and goings, to find out exactly who they are taking their orders from and their function within the organisation. From there, we can work towards –"
"You are asking me," Korra cut across the man whose voice served to grate on her patience, "to restore the destructive capability of men who even in the face of losing their bending have managed to prove just as hostile towards non-benders."
"As you yourself mentioned, we need a breadcrumb trail to follow," was the man's oiled reply. "I surely don't need to remind you that the Agni Kai syndicate is made up of solely firebenders. The only reason these men have managed to stay within the ranks without their bending is due to their reputation and the influence they all individually wield. We can use that to our own advantage. Once in possession of their bending, they'll no doubt be reckless, eager to prove themselves and – "
"The Police will just follow their path of destruction, yes?"
"In a sense," the man replied. "We will of course be working behind the scenes to influence where these men choose to make their…statements. There will be no casualties, Avatar Korra."
Korra placed her hands on the table, interlacing her fingers as she held the eyes of the advocate. "Do you honestly expect me to trust those words when dealing with such men as these? They wield fire. It is unpredictable and wild; it lusts for destruction. According to these portfolios, the Police Force has previously taken in these men on accounts of arson and robbery." Korra gestured almost casually as she allowed her voice to trail off for a moment. "And where are these men? Behind bars where they belong? No, they are still walking the streets alongside innocent, honest citizens with a smile on their face because they know the Police lack the competence to keep them in a cell for more than a few hours."
"Now just you wait one moment, Avatar," Feng growled between clenched teeth, half-rising from his seat.
"I will not support these half-baked plans of yours," Korra spoke over the man as his face began to redden in outrage. "You would have me stand in a public assembly and condone the actions of these men by returning their bending to them, and then when they unleash their fire upon non-benders yet again, the Police will be nowhere to be seen. Instead, Iwill have to shoulder the blame and suffer the public outcry."
Barely keeping her own blood from boiling and her anger spilling out into her voice, Korra pushed back her chair and stood to her feet. Chief Feng rose to his full height to match her, evidently livid with the manner of her refusal. She didn't attempt to waste energy and find it in herself to care for his reaction to her judgement of his establishment. She was growing sick of the actions – or rather inaction of the Police Force.
"I am not your scapegoat, Chief Feng," she told him. " I won't serve as the catalyst for the inevitable outcry from the Equalist movement in light of the persistent persecution of non-benders and the failings of the Police Force, which will only lead to me having to attend more of these pointless, infernal meetings."
And with that, she turned on her heel and swept from the room, ignoring the raised voice of the man as he shouted after her before turning on the Council itself. She needed fresh air. City Hall was an expansive, luxurious building, but Korra had always felt as though its walls were pressing against her whenever she dwelt within it – and that was too often. When she finally stepped outside, she found herself a spot underneath the shadow of one of the tall pillars and waited, folding her arms across her chest as she merely watched the city go by.
The sun had risen high above the city's skyline, tall shadows slinking down the sides of office blocks and residential towers as the great fiery orb approached its zenith. She raised her head a fraction and looked to the airships that occupied the domain above, several emblazoned with the title 'Red Sun Technologies'. Korra spared a moment to think of the steady decline of Future Industries in the years since Hiroshi Sato had fled Republic City in the wake of Amon's defeat, his daughter left to take upon herself the arduous challenge of repairing the damage done to the business' reputation. Korra had not managed to keep up regular contact with Asami after they had all returned from the South Pole. The young woman, left to somehow attempt to save a failing company, had drawn into herself and her work, subsequently drawing apart from what had once been fondly called Team Avatar.
"Korra," a familiar voice spoke from behind her shoulder, its tone sage, fatherly and at the moment flavoured with subtle hints of exasperation as well as pride. That he could somehow infuse his voice with several emotions at once had always served as a point of fascination for her. She continued to lean against the smooth, cool stone but turned her head towards him.
"Are you going to tell me off, Tenzin?" she asked, the small smile that curved her lips failing to give light or warmth to her gaze.
The man frowned, deepening the lines that were slowly but surely shaping his features in preparation for a graceful, older visage. "While I do think you could have handled yourself a little more appropriately, I fully support your argument."
"Fully?" she repeated. "That's new."
"Chief Feng brought this…plan of his before the Council prior to us allowing him to present it to you. Four of us were already in agreement that to go through with it would be a costly mistake."
"Then why even bother calling me to this meeting?" Korra asked. "What did you think I was going to say?"
"Chief Feng was adamant about presenting the plans to you personally," Tenzin said. "He was confident you would understand their apparent necessity, to use his words. I, however, was sure that you would follow the majority of the Council's line of argument."
"Well, I'm pleased to have entertained you all," Korra remarked. "Let's do this again next week, shall we?"
"Korra," Tenzin sighed, resting his hand at her shoulder. "I can understand your frustrations with meetings like this, but they are necessary, both for us to conduct them and for you to attend them."
"Tenzin, I would see the necessity if these meetings actually accomplished something," Korra replied coolly. "This is not the first time Feng has presented such dangerous ideas to the Council, or to me. I have refused him before and yet here we are again. Why? Instead of wasting our time with this nonsense, the man should be organising the Police Force more effectively and efficiently across the city. Do you think I made those comments just to piss him off? I am forced to sit here day after day while the Force fails to live up to its expectations. During Chief Saikhan's tenure, the city's crime rate rose annually. During Feng's single year as Chief, the Triple Threats' territory has expanded further towards the industrial sector. Do I even need to spell out what will happen if such expansion continues?
"But guess what, Tenzin? Apparently no one cares enough to lift a finger to stop them. Breaking up a small Equalist protest calling out the disparity between benders' and non-benders' wages is clearly more important than the possibility of the Triple Threats gaining influence in the city's industrial sector. Feng is throwing Police resources Spirits only know where, and the Council is sitting back and letting him do just that. What?" Korra said as she turned to the Councilman and caught him smiling.
"I was just remembering the flustered seventeen-year old who was adamant that she would never understand anything about Republic City beyond the Pro-Bending Arena," Tenzin explained in a fond tone.
"Oh," Korra said, turning back to watch the skyline. "Well, I'm glad that what I was saying was of much importance to you, Tenzin."
"I heard you," Tenzin said, lifting his hand from her shoulder and moving to stand slightly in front of her. He clasped his hands behind his back as he regarded her with a calming sky-blue gaze. "I was listening. What you really wish to say is that you would rather be on the streets dealing directly with criminal organisations rather than be forced to attend these meetings, yes?"
Korra, who had not yet turned her eyes to him did so now, and her gaze was hard.
"With all due respect, Tenzin, don't patronize me. As you pointed out, I am not the seventeen year old who riled for a fight every five minutes. I am the Avatar, who dwells in a city that is slowly losing the lustre of the vision held by the great man who came before me, and yet I can't go out and pave the way for necessary changes because I am tied down by politics. I am called to maintain a balance, both in the way of the elements and the people who inhabit this world, aren't I?"
"Of course, and we are not tying you down, Korra," Tenzin said firmly. "We are enabling you to step into a position where you can properly facilitate the changes we both know need to be made in Republic City. But there is a process, procedures that must be followed. Your intentions may be good and right, but others will see it as violence being used to beget peace, and we already have ample examples of what one would reap afterwards."
"Processes and procedures," Korra laughed, her voice empty of amusement. "I understand, Tenzin. I understand."
It was the second time in the space of less than twenty-four hours that she had been told that. She was already sick of hearing it.
Korra pushed herself up off of the pillar, interlacing her fingers and pushing her arms out in front of her, enjoying for a moment the pull on her tense shoulders. It was barely noon and already she felt drained, fatigued.
The familiarity of her daily routine had done much to wear down her tolerance and good will, and along with it were a number of frustrations that splintered her attention and formed a chaotic pattern of thoughts that stirred sluggishly through her mind. Her current way of life was lacking a constant that she could truly cling to and gain strength from, and it was beginning to worry her. Mako should have naturally assumed that role, but they hardly saw much of each other lately, their moments together so fleeting. And though she appreciated Tenzin's paternal outlook for her, it had been a long time since she had felt the desire to confide in him. It was rare for her to see him in his natural state as a father and husband. She was accustomed to the Councilman and the teacher, both of which were stern, rigid personalities that grated uncomfortably against her own nature.
Neither of them knew her thoughts, not truly, and it was with a burdened heart that she confessed this to herself. She didn't know how to share them, or whether she ought to. Ironically, life had seemed so much simpler in the days of Amon's revolution. She had lived and breathed Republic City and it had spoken to her. Now, she merely sat and watched and felt disconnected, wading waist-deep through the clay upon which she had once ran fleet-footed.
"What am I to attend to now?" she asked her airbending teacher as she made for the steps that would lead down to Takka and the Satomobile waiting to take them to the harbour.
"Meditation," Tenzin answered. "It has been some time since our last session…and I think it would be helpful for you to have a moment away from all of this," he said as he gestured towards the building behind them.
"Great," Korra remarked, finding the strength to feign a smile. "Let's not keep the Spirits waiting then."
A/N: Story cover belongs to KostanRyuk, and can be found at DeviantArt: /art/Korra-314978898