Now (one month after the Equalist terrorist attack on Republic City)

.

They were playing one of his old matches on the radio because there were no more live games.

He tried not to listen too avidly, but really, he couldn't help but be pleased by his performance. There was such an art to it, and he missed that the most. Playing the audience as much as he played the opposing team.

The audience was everything.

Even more than the outcome of the game itself was what they gave the audience.

They didn't have to cheat, but they did.

Because the audience loved it.

.

Three years ago

.

He threw his helmet so hard against the locker room wall he cracked his face shield.

Then he swore viciously because now he had to pay to replace it.

TAP. tap. tap.

"Great," he snarled, because, you know he really needed another reporter tearing apart his last play. He fixed his hair and affected a casual air before swinging the door open into the dark locker room.

A woman stood there wearing a badly wrinkled version of one of those little felt hats that were becoming popular, and backlit so that he couldn't make out her features.

But man, he could sure make out her shape.

"I shouldn't be here," she whispered nervously, looking over her shoulder behind her while his eyes traversed her up and down. "I-I just wanted to... Look, don't listen to them. You're amazing. You're going to win the championships..." She stated this like it was a fact.

He scoffed, cutting in and looking down his nose at her.

Her posture looked slightly taken aback, as though rudeness were a thing wholly unfamiliar to her.

"Listen, buster," she said, pointing a slim digit into his chest so quickly he was taken aback, "I've been watching pro-bending matches my whole life. I know talent when I see it. That was a textbook perfect play you threw at them, but the Tigerdillos get sloppy when they get annoyed and they stop thinking with their heads and start thinking with their fists..."

"I know," Tahno sighed in boredom, cutting in again. He rolled his eyes up towards the flickering light behind her and puffed his bangs out of his eyes.

That's why he was so pissed off at himself. He should have anticipated their play better. He was too slow to think it through properly, and with Ming and Shaozu in the drink, he'd had to carry the team himself.

And La knew, he was not cool under fire.

So they lost the match.

"Listen," he drawled sarcastically, tipping his head to the side and smirking at her, "you're such a sweetheart to come here and tell me how to play, I'll be sure to win the championships just for you, okay?"

He turned to go back into his dark, empty locker room, but a quick hand on his shoulder stopped him.

She stood on her toes and pressed a quick, soft kiss to his cheek.

"You will," she whispered firmly into his ear, then she darted down the hall, the quick staccato of her boots clicking on the tile floor.

"I'd wish you luck," she called back to him, "but you don't need it!"

He couldn't help raising his eyebrow slightly.

She was right, of course.

That was the first year they won the championships.

It wasn't until the morning after, still recovering from a blistering hangover in a very nice hotel, that it occurred to him to make sure that one of the pretty girls he'd woken up tangled with hadn't walked off with his wallet.

He reached deep into his pants pocket and breathed a sigh of relief as he felt the familiar leather. Then he frowned as he felt something else. He pulled the piece of paper from his pocket and unfolded it.

"Told you?" he murmured, reading the words in confusion. He flipped the paper over to see if there was a signature, or some other indication of who had written it, but there was nothing except the small, neat words written in capital letters. The paper felt expensive, and he brought it up closer to see if there was a watermark, but a slight scent tickled his memory instead and he followed it back to an unexpected kiss on the cheek from a mystery woman.

He smiled wryly.

.

Now

.

He scratched his thumb along the edge of the pristine white plate to remove the miniscule speck that remained before he let it drift back below the soapy water.

He knew it would be like this eventually.

Fade away or...

Really, he and the Wolfbats could have only been so lucky to go out with such a spectacular bang right at the top.

Live fast, die young, he supposed.

Well.

He only felt dead.

...

He sighed and ran a sudsy hand through his hair, pushing his long, dark bangs out of his face before finishing up the dishes.

Tahno actually wasn't a naturally vain person. Naturally elegant, yes, naturally vain, no. It was a Deep Waters clan thing. Everyone in his family had it. Except his grandmother.

But the infamous Baby Fury, had understood how to work a crowd and the importance of precision of movement, and her manners were good enough, when she needed them, so...

So...

.

Two years, eleven months ago.

.

TAP. tap. tap.

Tahno froze, halfway through changing out of his uniform. He sat up with a smirk and straightened his white undershirt and hair before opening the door to his locker room.

"Hello, Sweetheart," he drawled, crossing his arms and casually leaning against the doorframe, "come to give me a proper kiss this time?"

She laughed.

Beautifully, Tahno noted.

(He was slightly disconcerted by how much he liked it.)

"You won," she said smugly.

A grin quirked at the corner of his mouth. He looked down at his hands to try to hide said grin behind his long bangs.

"Yeah," he drawled, "I seem to remember you telling me we would."

"Did you get my message?" she asked with a grin.

He couldn't actually see her grin, but he could hear it.

"Did you get mine?" he smirked.

He'd dedicated his win to her during his post-game interview with Shiro Shinobi.

"That was for you, Sweetheart," really could have been anyone, which was kind of the point (it paid to encourage his fans, after all), but he sort of hoped she'd get it anyway.

"I did," she breathed quietly.

"I got yours too," he said quietly, wanting to tuck his hands into pockets his uniform didn't have.

She cocked her head to the side, and Tahno could see from the outline of her cheek that she was smiling widely.

"You're up against the Eel Hounds next," she said, tipping her hip a little.

Tahno's eyes flicked down, and then back up to her face still hidden in the shadows of that awful hat.

"Yep," he said with a pop.

"They're tough," she said.

He shrugged.

"Give me a proper kiss and I'll win it for you," he said with a smirk.

She laughed again.

"Hmm," she said deep in her throat, and Tahno's arm hairs stood up at the sound. "How many times have you used that line?"

Tahno swallowed and gave her a little smile, digging his toe into a scuff on the tile.

"Once."

She didn't ask if he was lying.

She just stepped up to him, quick as before, and pressed her soft, soft lips to his and gave him the sweetest kiss of his life. A small sound escaped him and before he could move to get his arms around her, she turned and stepped quickly away, almost running down the hall. She pressed her cool hands (he knew they were cool because she'd actually slipped them into his as she kissed him) to her cheeks as she disappeared around the corner.

His match against the Eel Hounds was the first hat trick of his career.

.

Now

.

He very deliberately finished his few dishes and put them away methodically before drying his hands with the towel (he was still getting the hang of not thinking about how to do it), and sat down with a drink on his wide couch. He crossed his ankles on the fine, antique wooden chest that served as a low table.

He'd be lying to himself if he didn't also acknowledge that he missed his muse.

She'd disappeared a few weeks before the Wolfbats fell, and he hadn't seen her since.

It irritated him that he missed her.

(That he didn't know what happened to her.)

That it was something he couldn't smooth away through force of will alone.

.

Two years, nine months ago

.

"What's your name?" he asked breathlessly against her mouth as he pinned her up against the wall of his dark locker room.

He ran his hands along her legs wrapped around his waist and wished desperately that he wasn't wearing his uniform and she wasn't wearing... whatever she was wearing.

"I-I can't," she gasped as he slid his hot mouth along her pulse and ground his pelvis into hers.

"Please, Sweetheart," he pleaded, holding the sides of her face, trying desperately to make out her features in the darkness.

"No," she said firmly.

He stopped, breathing heavily, and held her there for a moment.

(He noted with no small satisfaction that she was just as affected.)

"Why?" he asked, swallowing hard. "Are you married?"

She laughed so hard, it worried him.

Cold anxiety slithered through his stomach as another thought occurred to him.

"How old are you?" he asked suspiciously, stepping away suddenly.

That made her laugh harder.

"Oh, fuck," he swore, recoiling nervously away from her.

"N-no, I-I'm old enough," she gasped between spasms of hilarity.

He scowled and crossed his arms, facing away from her, relief and irritation coiling through him uncomfortably. He heard the heels of her boots click on the tile floor as she came up behind him.

"My... guardian... is very protective of me," she said, amusement tingeing her voice. "He doesn't like how much I hang around the arena as it is. If he found out I was here, with you, there would be consequences... for both of us. It's safer for you this way."

He shot her a narrow glare in the dark.

"What kind of consequences?" he muttered warily.

...

"He could probably end your career," she said quietly.

...

"Ah."

Fabulous.

He gave a short sigh.

Well, he did like to live dangerously. He had a broken eye socket from an angry husband to prove it.

He heard her disappointed sigh as she assumed the worst, and her heels begin to click away from him.

"Where you going, Sweetheart?" he drawled with a grin.

After all, rumor had it that the moon spirit Yue went off to be with her secret lover when her face was hidden too.

.

Now

.

He sipped his drink and looked out into the foggy night, trying very hard to conquer the seasickness that still gripped him even a month after his bending had been taken from him.

His yacht rolled gently in the night and he deliberately ignored the moon. He couldn't take looking at her.

Small steps.

He was, after all, learning to live again.

La, however, was more insistent, and wouldn't be ignored. He could still feel the flow of the tides under his skin.

In his blood.

He sipped his drink again and leaned his head back against the top of the chair, staring up into the starry night through the skylight as he listened to the occasional gentle splash of a wave against the hull and the old match on the radio.

.

Two years ago

.

They won again, and the angry victory of it swam through his blood like a drug. He scanned the stands desperately trying to pick out her stupid hat, but he couldn't find her, no matter how hard he looked.

He went through his interview with gritted teeth and jumpy knees. Ming and Shaozu handled it much better than him. Especially Shaozu, since he'd gotten a double in the final round. When the interview was over, he strode as quickly as he could to his locker room.

She was waiting for him.

He slammed and locked the door behind him.

His mouth crashed into hers and he pushed her up against the wall, but to his surprise, she quickly pivoted and pushed him back, tearing at the fastenings of his uniform.

"You were amazing," she breathed against his mouth.

He could hear the hunger in her voice and he growled in response. He reached up to the hat and gripped the brim, but she flinched and he hesitated.

"You promised," he said in a low voice, trying very, very hard to keep the accusation out of his voice.

"Hat only," she whispered in the darkness.

He flipped it off her head and he heard a soft sound as it landed somewhere across the room. She inhaled sharply at the abruptness of his motion as the few floating strands of hair that clung to the hat settled around her twisted-up hair. He could barely make out the shape of her face in the dark. He swallowed hard.

"You cheated," he said flatly. "I want to see your hair."

"My hair has been like this every single time I've seen you," she said evenly, "you didn't say anything about my hair."

"I said I wanted to see what was under that hat!" he snapped, frustrated.

"What about the rest?" she asked mischievously.

...

"What?" he asked, confused.

Her fingers began undoing the buttons of her shirt slowly.

Deliberately.

"What abou..."

Oh, yes.

He swallowed the rest of her words with his urgent mouth and began tearing at the fastenings of her shirt while she returned the favour.

When Ming and Shaozu asked where he was the next morning, he told them he was with his muse.

Then they spread the word that he had a muse...

and he didn't see her for half a year.

Not that he didn't try to find her.

It started out being the worst season they'd had yet until she showed up again halfway through the season saying she couldn't stay away.

Then it ended up being one of the best comebacks in the history of pro-bending.

.

Now

.

Time was, he would have just thrown his glass against a wall, but now he had to actually clean the mess up.

...

It was quiet, and he let his thoughts drift through the plans he'd been making for his future. That is, until he recognized the faint slow step of her boot heels on the pier. He didn't even realize he knew them until he saw he was unconsciously gripping the glass he was holding so tightly that his knuckles were white.

Wow.

He laughed sardonically.

In retaliation against the grip she had on him, he scowled faintly and refused to move.

He tried to breathe as quietly as he could, listening to the slow steps count out the beats of his heart. She stopped suddenly and he held his breath. He felt tense with anticipation, like right before a match.

He actually felt a small bead of sweat roll down the back of his neck and he smirked.

I mean, it wasn't like her pre-game visits had anything to do with that reaction.

At all.

.

One year ago.

.

"You cheated," she accused, crossing her arms in front of her chest and glaring at him from the back-lit entrance.

He sat on the bench in his locker room, resting his elbows on his knees. He looked down at his at his hands. He'd changed and had been waiting for her.

For hours.

(The sounds of the post-match rioting had only recently died off.)

"Yep," he sighed quietly.

She scoffed in disgust and stormed off.

She sought him out a month into the next season, and he explained things to her.

That it wasn't just about skill. How important it was to work the crowd and bring people in to watch. That a public persona was created and had to be carefully evolved so that fans would continue to follow. That he really only had a couple of more seasons in him before he ended up a battered wreck like Toza, and that it was so much better for business to go out at the top than to fade away off the bottom.

"I-can't watch you cheat like that," she whispered hoarsely, "especially when you're good enough not to."

His heart clenched.

He fingered the necklace he'd been spending the last year choosing for her. It looked like it was quite literally now or never. He pulled it out of his pocket and heard the delicate gold chain zip along the edge of his linen jacket.

"Here," he said, holding it out without looking at her.

She didn't take it.

He swallowed.

"I bought it last year," he drawled.

Not with my dirty money, he didn't add.

She ran her finger over the gold and coral and jade pendant.

"It's not an original," he said bitterly, "so you wont have to worry about me recognizing you or anything. The designer is also popular enough with rich girls like you that nobody should question where you got it."

Her hand froze on the pendant.

She gave a couple of quick, short breaths and turned her head quickly to the side.

He knew her well enough to know that meant she was upset. He heard her swallow, and she put her hand over his and the pendant. He watched the gold chain glint as it swayed slightly in the dark.

He noticed very pointedly how she didn't ask how he knew she was a rich girl.

(Only rich girls could afford that particular brand of perfume.)

She slowly took it from him and turned it over in her hands.

"Thank you," she said quietly, "it's lovely."

He decided not to spook her by telling her what giving a necklace to a girl usually meant to his people. (This one didn't mean that... but still.) He gave a short, humorless laugh instead. He decided to throw a couple more cards on the table since she was leaving. He figured he didn't have much to lose at that point.

"You know," he drawled in a low voice, leaning back on the bench with his hands, "I actually started to think you were from one of the crime families in town. But since my extended family is connected in one way or another to most of them... I figured out that you aren't... so..."

There was a bit of a threat of a there.

Also another invitation to step into the light.

"You hunting me, Wolfbat?" she asked softly with a grin.

"Ever since you showed up, Sweetheart," he said before he knew it.

...

She put the necklace in her pocket.

"Goodbye, Tahno," she whispered.

Then she turned and walked away.

.

Now

.

TAP. tap. tap.

The sound at his door made his breath explode out of him.

He swallowed hard and quickly straightened his clothes and hair, then affected a casual air that he did not feel.

He felt off-balance in more than one way, but he wasn't about to let her see that.

He actually rolled his shoulders to loosen up as he walked the few steps over to the door.

.

A few months ago

.

He was going crazy.

Ordinarily, he actually enjoyed the opportunity to rub elbows with Republic City's elite.

(Never knew when those contacts might come in handy.)

But tonight?

He heard her everywhere.

He took another drink of the expensive champagne and smiled invitingly at the two women who had been eyeing him and whispering behind their hands. Encouraged, they smiled excitedly and came over to him. He chatted pleasantly with them, laughing politely at their attempts at flattery and signing what they asked him to after pretending to fumble for a pen. (That he deliberately did not bring, because that looked pretentious.)

He heard her laugh and his head swiveled in the direction he thought the sound originated from.

He politely excused himself from the women and expertly wove his way through the sea of people. (Trying not to look like he was dodging attacks in a match.)

Where was she?

Damn it!

He growled and finished off the champagne, carefully setting the empty glass on a serving tray, then something caught his eye.

Great.

The fucking Fire Ferrets were there too.

Of course they were, the event was for the Avatar, wasn't it?

Then,

something else caught his eye.

The same necklace...

He cocked his head a little and subtly scrutinized the woman hanging off the arm of the Ferrets' captain.

No, it couldn't be her.

She didn't move confidently enough.

Like she was uncomfortable in her own skin.

Still...

He waited for an opportunity to walk close to the woman.

No.

It wasn't her.

It wasn't.

He'd know if she was.

...

In all honesty, Tahno was a wreck by the end of the night: there were three other women wearing the same necklace at the gala.

.

Now

.

He hesitated.

He could see her outlined by the light of the moon.

He swallowed.

Then he smirked, allowing the very fond memories he had of her to play across his face, and he reached out to the door and opened it.

It swung open slowly between them.

She was backlit (as always) and he couldn't make out her features.

But it was her.

He knew the sound of her walk.

The texture of her hair between his fingers.

The feel of her skin.

Her laugh.

His senses knew the shape of her like this, even if he probably couldn't recognize her in broad daylight.

...

"Oh," he drawled, leaning casually against the doorframe, "it's you."

.

One month ago

.

Should he have egged on the Avatar the way he did?

Hmmm.

Probably not.

But, damn, it was fun.

And really, she gave as good as she got.

He really was surprised by that uppercut.

She earned that round one hundred percent.

And, oh man, did he enjoy bricking that smug firebender's face.

He had never enjoyed cheating so much in his life.

Shaozu and Ming loved it too, he could tell.

They had the time of their lives.

.

He threw up over the side of the skiff on the way to his gran's yacht to see what they could do for him.

The vertigo was so bad on the water that he just wished he could pass out.

.

When he was lucid enough to do so, he couldn't stop thinking about two things:

his bending.

and her.

.

He didn't remember most of the night.

The nightmares, he remembered, though.

.

The next morning, he got his cousins to drag him to shore so that he could go talk to Lin at the police station.

It took him an hour to feel like he could walk without retching.

Lin didn't know anything about a girl this tall with black hair and an ugly hat.

No, actually, he didn't know her name.

...

The not knowing was the worst part.

.

Now

.

She didn't reply, but from the tilt of her head and the way she shifted her stance, he knew she was giving that smile she did when she saw straight through his bullshit.

"Can I come in?" she asked.

He turned sideways (careful not to touch her, because he didn't like starting a match from a position of weakness) and gestured with his empty glass for her to enter.

It was the first time she'd ever come to his home.

She took a seat with the moon still behind her and arranged herself elegantly.

Tahno sat back where he was before.

He was so fucking relieved that he couldn't say anything at first.

So they sat in silence for a while. Though it wasn't exactly comfortable, it was somewhat familiar. He idly twisted the glass in his fingers.

"You seem different," he said finally.

"You don't," she replied.

His heart seized and he exhaled softly.

She couldn't know how that speared him to his (very grateful waterbending) soul.

"Would you like a drink?" he asked after clearing his throat.

"Yes, please," she said quietly, "a bourbon, if you've got it."

He pulled a glass and poured her a generous portion. After a moment, he poured himself one too.

He handed her the glass

and she

very carefully

and deliberately

let her fingers touch his.

He ignored the response the warmth from her touch sent through him and sat down next to her, draping his arm (casually) across the couch behind her shoulders. She took a deep drink from the glass and sighed appreciatively, tipping her dark-haired head onto his shoulder. He swallowed again and rested his cheek on the top of her head.

She did not smell like herself.

"You smell like a Satomobile engine," he said, wrinkling his nose.

She laughed sadly.

He reached his hand from behind her on the couch and ran his fingers lightly over her carefully coiffed hair. He'd always wanted to pull the tortoise-seal shell combs out, but she never let him. He'd never once seen just how long her hair was.

"I'm sorry I haven't come by sooner," she said quietly, "it took me a while to track you down after the attack at the arena."

He went still.

"Well," he said a bit tightly, "maybe I could have given you my address if I'd seen you before that."

"Tahno," she said in a low voice, "you could have given me your address any time in the last three years."

"Yeah, well," he snapped, "you could have given me yours, and your name any time in the last three years too! Agni knows I asked you enough times, Sweetheart!"

He could feel her tense under his arm.

"Ask me now," she choked.

"What's your name?" he demanded angrily.

"Asami," she whispered.

That didn't sound right.

He'd never once thought her name was Asami.

Funny how that would be his first thought.

"Asami," he repeated, his mind working furiously to place it.

Asami... Asami...

(You smell like a Satomobile.)

He recoiled away from her and leaped to his feet.

"Y-you're Asami Sato?!" he blurted in shocked disbelief.

She sat a little hunched on the couch, elegant hands wrapped tightly around the drink he'd given her.

Her silence was confirmation enough.

"Oh, my fucking...!" he pressed the heel of his hand to his eyes.

"You're Asami Sato," he stated flatly.

And so,

the mystery was solved.

His muse was none other than the daughter of the man who supplied the Equalists with everything they needed to terrorize and mutilate benders like him.

None other than the very public sponsor (and girlfriend!) of the fucking Fire Ferret (not the Wolfbat).

Oh, how badly he wanted to kick (forget brick!) that firebender's teeth out.

He also wanted to throttle her hypocritical throat.

(What happened to not being seen with a pro-bender, huh?!)

He exhaled angrily, trying to compose himself.

"Tahno..." she started, a pleading in her voice.

He held up the hand holding the glass and pointing a finger at her to silence her.

"Don't," he said in a low voice, not looking at her. "Just... don't..."

Three years...

Well.

It just figured, he sneered, looking out accusingly at the moon.

He pulled his chair aggressively in front of her and sat down in it, resting his elbows on his knees.

He took a deep drink and rolled the glass in between his hands.

"Why all the subterfuge?" he drawled with a smirk. "Sato heiress too good to be seen with me?"

She scoffed.

"Yeah," she said angrily, "like I wanted to be another notch in your bedpost for the tabloids to run with. Been quite a year for you, Sweetheart."

He scowled angrily.

"So you went and decided to be a notch in that Ferret's instead?" he snarled through clenched teeth.

She laughed bitterly.

"Not exactly," she ground out.

He heard the hurt in her voice and he felt it like a bruise to him... like taking a rock to the ribs.

"It seemed that," she said icily, crossing her arms, "after my lying, deceptive, terrorist father told me that I was capable of making my own decisions about who to be seen in public with, you quite literally had enough to keep both hands full without me. I didn't think, at that point, I'd be missed."

He scratched the back of his neck jerkily, mulling over her point.

"You were missed," he grated.

She didn't answer, turning away and staring at the door.

He got an eye full of her lovely profile as he willed with everything in him that she wouldn't go back out the door.

"You could have said something," he sighed, leaning back so he didn't have to look at her.

"And what would I have said? 'Hey Tahno, even though you've got dozens of gorgeous women thowing themselves at you every night, and you don't even really know who I am, and I haven't seen you for a year, what do you think about monogamy?'" she affected a falsely chipper, vapid air as she said this and he couldn't help but chuckle.

Yeah, she did have a point there.

After she left (deserted), he actually did enjoy the non-monogamy that being a Wolfbat facilitated.

She still stabbed him in the heart though.

And it hurt enough that he wasn't above a little stabbing back.

"Speaking of monogamy," he drawled flippantly, "how's it going with you and the Ash-Hole and the Avatar? Any hot threesomes with her that I should hear about?"

She kicked him in the shin.

Hard.

With her fucking pointy boot.

He grunted in pain and swore under his breath as he rubbed the spot.

"I'm not part of that equation anymore," she scowled.

His eyebrows rose at the wavery tone in her voice.

That idiot actually hurt her.

(Tahno was going to fucking kill him... He didn't let the murderous intent show in his eyes, of course.)

Instead, he hesitantly reached over and took her hand, turning it over and kissing the sensitive spot at the base of her palm, enfolding it in both of his.

"Well," he said dryly, "the Ferret may sort of know how to fight, but he never did strike me as having an overabundance of brains."

She breathed out a sad laugh, and gave his hand a quick squeeze.

"...How are you doing?" she asked quietly.

"Terrible, actually," he said. "But I'll be fine."

He eyed her warily.

He read newspapers.

"How about you?" he asked quietly.

She didn't answer, but he felt a hot tear drop onto one of his hands after a moment.

His face fell.

He pulled her into his lap without a word, and she curled up, burying her face into his neck and crying soundlessly. He sighed and rubbed his hand up and down her back. He kissed her head when he felt her shudder against him from the strength of her grief.

He lost his bending.

She lost everything else.

"Do you need a place to stay?" he asked quietly. "You can stay here."

(You should stay here.)

She tipped her head back to look up at him.

His breath was literally stolen away, she was so beautiful.

Her eyes were as green as the warm waters of the Fire Nation.

...and her lips.

He missed what she said, he was so taken by her beauty. She looked at him expectantly and he actually flushed with embarrassment.

"I'm sorry," he said, "could you repeat that?"

She gave him a watery smile and traced his lower lip with her thumb.

"I said I need to get back to Air Temple Island," she whispered, "we're heading to the South Pole tomorrow morning."

He arched an eyebrow.

"And why in the hell would you want to go there?" he asked incredulously.

She laughed.

"We're going to see if Katara of the Southern Water Tribe can do anything for Korra and Lin Bei Fong," she said carefully.

"...I actually wanted to see if you wanted to come with us," she said hesitantly.

"No," he said flatly.

"Tahno..."

"No, thank you," he articulated carefully.

Asami gave him a puzzled look.

Not pity, but puzzlement.

He could swear he could see the gears turning in her head, trying to figure him out.

"Why not?" she asked.

He narrowed his eyes and looked down his long, aristocratic nose at her.

"Don't you try that look with me, fella," she smirked up at him, "you know that shit does not fly with this girl."

He actually quirked a crooked smile at that.

She grinned back.

"Why not?" she asked again.

"Blood feud," he said, gesturing vaguely with his hand, "also, it won't work. That fucker messed us up too bad. It's irreversable. It's like losing an eye. Some things you just can't fix."

Asami's face fell.

"Tahno... are... are you sure?" she asked quietly, "how can you be sure?"

"Sorry, Sweetheart," he said tightly, trying to force a smile for her benefit, "you have to be Deep Waters Clan for me to tell you that."

She pouted.

Tahno's eyes went straight to that beautiful, plump lip.

He swallowed.

She licked it and gave him a slow smile.

His narrowed eyes went to hers and he tipped his head to the side.

"Sorry Sweetheart," he said in a high pitched-voice, "that shit does not fly with me." He rolled his eyes and gave a feminine flick of his hand for emphasis.

She laughed and blushed, slapping his chest lightly. He grinned and caught her hand, lacing his fingers with hers.

"Stay with me," he whispered in her ear. "I'll take you over in the morning."

She bit her lip.

The silence became uncomfortable, and he couldn't help but sigh quietly.

Moorless, he thought, that was the word... Since his bending was ripped out of him.

(Since she left.)

(His body did not want to let her go.)

He moved to help her to her feet so that she could leave.

But she shifted suddenly

and kissed him softly,

so he went still,

barely breathing.

(Feeling like he was breathing for the first time.)

His fingers trailed slowly up her neck and into her hair.

Her hand came up and she pulled the combs from it, and he sighed as the soft coil of her hair came loose in his fingers.

She smelled like engine and perfume.

"I missed you," he murmured honestly before he could hold it in.

She could have poked a hole through his veneer like one of her spiked heels through an ice-covered puddle.

But she didn't.

She put her hands on the sides of his face and looked up at him.

"I missed you too," she said softly.

Her green, green eyes so wide and open.

Then she kissed him again.

And he got to suck the pouty lip.

Of Miss Asami Sato.

The whole night long.