the_codex: (Drama)
[personal profile] the_codex
Again, written for [livejournal.com profile] aiffe. I'm slowly becoming a Tahno stan and it's all her fault.

Title: Are We Having Fun Yet?
Fandom: Legend of Korra
Character/Pairing: Tahno, Tahno/Korra (but you don't have to squint as hard)
Rating: PG
Warnings: Mentions of suicide. Spoilers for "And the Winner Is" and "Aftermath."


She didn't know why she'd come here. Maybe because Amon's gang seemed like the type that would hang out in seedy bars and get drunk enough to be useful to her. But after staying there a few hours and dodging all sorts of creepy characters with nothing to show for it, she decided it was better to look for loose lips elsewhere. But as she passed the entrance to the bar's back alley, a familiar voice made her look up.

"So if you're not a Wolfbat any longer, what do we get to call you?"

"Whatever the fuck you want, I guess."

She barely recognized him. His hair was longer, pulled back in a ponytail, and his clothes draped him at odd angles, in a way that made a tiny finger of dread creep across her stomach. He was backed against the wall by two much larger thugs, their grins a sharp contrast to his blank, empty expression.

"How about 'Roadkill'?"

He shrugged. "Has a nice ring to it."

One of the thugs scowled. "C'mon, you're not making this a lot of fun."

"Wasn't aware I was supposed to."

She knew she should turn and get out of there. But something in her caught fast and wouldn't let her leave. She entered the alley, hands settling on her hips. "So what have we here? Two losers needing to prove what they are by picking on a guy half their size who won't fight back?"

One of them spat at the ground. "You'd be smart to stay out of this one, bitch."

"Would I really?" She held up both fists, one wrapped in water from her bending skin, the other surrounded in a blazing fireball.

They startled back, panic visible in their faces. "Shit! The Avatar!"

"That's right," she said, advancing. "Still think it's me who should stay out of this?"

They shook their heads, turning and fleeing into the night. She calmed the fire and put the water back in its flask, then approached the remaining figure. "...Tahno?"

He shook his head, turning away from her. "Please don't call me that."

She frowned. "Then...what should I call you?"

"Nothing."

"Why?"

"Because that's what I am," he shrugged. "I'm not Tahno anymore. I'm not anyone."

Her features hardened. "Bull. You are Tahno. You will always be Tahno, and nobody can take that away from you."

He shook his head. "He already did."

"No, he didn't. He just took away--"

"My bending," he growled. "Everything that makes me me. Everything that makes it worth getting up in the morning. You can feed me whatever fucking hollow platitudes you want, and you know what? It's not gonna mean shit, because at the end of the day, you can still do what you do and be who you are, and I can't. That's just the way it works."

"It doesn't have to! You can--"

"I can do what?" he spat. "Why the hell do you even care all of a sudden? You got no reason to even like me, and this is nothing but a lucky break as far as you're concerned. You got the tournaments in the bag without my cheating ass fucking it up for you. So go ahead, gloat to your heart's content. I got what I had coming, and we both know that."

"No," she said. "Just because we're not best friends doesn't mean I have to hate you, either. What he did to you...maybe there are some people in this world who might deserve it. You aren't one of them. You have to do a lot worse than cheating at sports to deserve...to deserve that."

"Fine. If you're not gonna do anything constructive, then let me destroy my liver in peace." He pulled the flask from his belt, unscrewing the cap with mild difficulty. She grabbed it away from him, sealing it back up.

"I think you've had enough."

He laughed bitterly, but made no move to get his flask back. "Oh no. No no no. There's no such thing as enough. There isn't enough of that shit in the world to make this one go away. So you can kindly take your pity and your bending and shove them both up that shapely ass of yours."

She tucked the bottle into a pouch at her belt. "The only reason I'm not beating the crap out of you for that is because you're too falling down drunk to remember you even said it tomorrow morning."

He snorted, shoving his hands into his pockets and turning to leave. "If I'm lucky, there won't be a tomorrow morning."

She reached out and caught his shoulder, spinning him around and pinning him to the wall. "Don't. Don't you dare. Don't you even think about it."

"Or you'll what?" he smirked, but there was no mirth in it. No cockiness. "After you just stopped a couple of thugs from thrashing my ass? What the fuck could you possibly threaten a guy who doesn't want to live anymore with?"

She stood there rigid for a moment, so many emotions that she didn't like and didn't understand warring in her gut. Before finally, her grip on his arms loosened, and she lowered her eyes with a heavy sigh. "You're right. I can't threaten you with anything. But that's not what I want to do." Before she could lose her nerve, she pulled him up against her into an awkward, but no less tight embrace. Pressed his chin to her shoulder, slid a hand into that dark hair and just...held him. Non platitudes. No pretenses.

He froze for a moment, as if not knowing how he should react, body rigid as a squirrelcat caught in a Satomobile's headlights. When he finally spoke, his voice was thin and brittle and cracking around the edges. Like the surface of a frozen lake on the first day of Spring.

"...Why?"

She didn't answer. Except to gently smooth his hair without catching the many knots in it.

His body slowly softened and crumpled against her, thin fingers tangling in her shirt as his forehead pressed against her collar and he began to sob quietly. She suppressed the shudder at being able to feel his ribs, the bones of his shoulders, the way his legs gave out from under him. Carefully, she turned and leaned against the wall, guiding him down to the ground to sit against her while she soothed him. Rubbing his back and stroking his hair as he continued to come apart under that touch. Until he finally quieted down to the occasional shuddery breath, shivering from cold as much as anything else. She shed her jacket, pulling it around him as he rested there. Looking for all the world like a broken doll, eyes glistening and empty and the flush in his face from the tears only accentuating how pale and sick he'd become.

As much as she wanted to, she couldn't bring herself to tell him that it was going to be all right. To make the kind of promise that, for all her bravado, she was hardly confident she'd be able to keep. For the first time in a very long time, she had no idea what to say. At all.

So she said nothing. And he, at least, seemed fine with that for now.
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