Trigger warnings for this fic: partner violence (for political reasons), suicidal ideation, character death (past).
All romance will be 100% consensual and there will be some fluff, but the characters are grappling with issues, and there's going to be some heavy stuff as well.
If you're looking for a fluffier fic, I recommend going back to my profile and reading "The Cave" series instead. :)
I'm battling some health issues right now, so I'm not sure how frequently this will update, but I'll try to keep it updating regularly. (Incidentally, that's why I've been so awful at replying to PMs – I'm very sorry for the delay.) Comments and reviews are gobbled like candy. :D
Korra didn't know how to feel when the bloodbending brothers were found half-dead, and so she felt nothing. Though the Council recommended that she attend the trial, she refused. Why should she acknowledge the man who had kidnapped her and the man who had terrorized her nightmares? So far as she was concerned, Tarrlok had died the day Amon took his bending, and Amon had died the day she had unmasked him in front of his followers, and she didn't have to acknowledge either of them ever again.
"Noatak," Mako had corrected when she had expressed this to him.
"Amon," she had replied. "Noatak was a victim. Amon was a criminal."
As a member of the police, Mako was involved with trial security, and so she heard every detail about the trial, even though he had been sworn to secrecy, even though she had no desire to know. He told her that Amon was quiet, his chin high, his face hard. Tarrlok wilted against his brother, not even responding when the lawyers addressed him. The trial was uneventful: no bloodbending, no words of defense, nothing but a quiet nod when Noatak was asked if he understood the charges.
To no one's surprise, they were sentenced to life in prison, and Noatak was ordered to have his bending removed.
That was the only time Korra saw him.
He knelt in the prison ward, hands bound behind him – a perfunctory gesture, given that it wouldn't stop his psychic bloodbending. His head was bowed, and she could see a bald scar across the back of his head, as big as her hand; it must still cause him considerable pain, even partially healed. She stood before him and as she looked down at him, she tried to feel anger or contempt or even pity, but she felt nothing.
"Look at me," she commanded.
He obeyed so quickly that for a split second, she felt as if their power balance had been reversed, that she was finally in charge. But then his eyes locked onto hers, and a shiver ran through her.
Even here, physically submitting to her, stripped of everything he had ever worked for, he still controlled her fear.
She lifted her chin to look down her nose at him. One hand pressed to his chest, her thumb to his forehead, as she closed her eyes and let the Avatar State flood her body.
On occasion, she had been asked to perform this punishment against gang members whose crimes far outweighed a usual prison sentence. Those times, it was a battle of wills, energy combating energy. This time, she felt no resistance. Her energy rolled over his like a wave on sand, eroding the particles in seconds.
When she opened her eyes, his were closed. With a slow inhale, she stepped back, hands clenched in fists at her sides.
Amon's eyes opened, immediately finding hers.
One corner of his lips lifted.
Her breath caught in her throat, and she turned away, hurrying to the safety of the waiting room.
The look would haunt her. Why had he smiled? Was that gratitude? Was he somehow taking victory in the moment? It drove her mad, made her pace, because no matter what it meant, one thing was true: he had met her head-on, and this time she had been the one to retreat.
That wasn't how she wanted their battle to end.