the_codex: (FFVII: General)
[personal profile] the_codex
Title: Before the Ghosts Arrive
Fandom: Legend of Korra
Character/Pairing: Korra/Tahno
Rating: PG
Warnings: Brief mentions of suicidal thoughts/tendencies and self-injury (by proxy)
Spoilers: 1.06 and 1.07


Despite his best efforts to avoid it, he finally regained consciousness.

It was still dark. And it took him a minute to realize that was because he hadn't opened his eyes yet. He felt far too weak and miserable to, so instead he concentrated on what other things he could tell about his surroundings without having to see them. He was in a bed, definitely. A blanket pulled up to his chest, and as far as he could feel that was the only thing covering him. The rest of his body hurt like hell in places he didn't think it was possible to, and his head pounded like a Gamelan drum. Which he figured was from a combination of the cheap liquor and the man with the nightstick and the hot wife. The air was cool and crisp, which made him wonder if he was indoors or out. Finally deciding that this was only going to confuse him further, he struggled his eyes open.

A hand rested on his chest, gentle and comforting. "Easy, easy..." The voice was familiar, so much, and he felt a catch of embarrassment that he couldn't place it before he caught sight of her face.

"A-A...v'tar..." His throat was parched such that the word barely cracked over his lips.

"Yeah," she said. And she didn't look happy. "It's me."

"Where am I?... What happened?"

Her expression hardened. "Where you are is Air Temple Island, and what happened is you're a stupid son of an ostrich-horse. You're going to eat and you're going to drink and you're going to cut the booze and the getting into fights and you're going to rest and so help me if you give me any arguments, I'm going to gag you and tie you to the mattress." She paused, seeming to add as an afterthought. "And maybe take pictures, if Asami is awesome enough to loan me a camera."

He knew he shouldn't have bothered waking up. He turned back to the ceiling, closing his eyes again. "Go ahead and do it if it makes you feel better. I don't fucking care."

"Bull. Yes you do. If you really didn't give a damn like you say, you'd have done the deed already. You're not nearly as ready to check out as you think you are."

"And what's it to you? You never answered that part. I've never given you a reason to like me. Why do you care at all?"

She paused. "I...don't really have an answer for that. I just do."

He opened his eyes again, looking back at her. "Well you can take your concern and go play fetch with it, because I'm not gonna be your goddamn charity case."

"I'm not asking you to be," she snapped. "Even if I don't like you, that doesn't mean I want to see you suffer."

Again, he let that bitter smile twist his lips. "So you bring me back here, where I can suffer in plain sight, because that makes tons of sense."

She shook her head. "No. I brought you here so I can help you to not suffer. Because even if we aren't friends...you're still a person. You're still somebody. And you didn't deserve what that monster did to you."

He didn't know why, but hearing those words from someone who probably had the most reason to hate his guts out of anyone he'd ever faced made him stop short, barely remembering that night outside the bar when she'd held him and let him cry himself into exhaustion on her shoulder. And then carefully walked him home. He turned on his side away from her, squeezing his eyes shut.

Her hand rested on his shoulder. "It's a lot to ask. I know that. You don't have any reason to trust me or to believe I give a damn, and I promise I'll do what I can to give you those reasons if it'll make it easier. I'm only going to ask one thing in return: let me help you. Please."

He shook his head, shivering under that hand. "That's just it. You can't. I went to every fucking healer in the city. This is permanent, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. I'm stuck this way for life." Before she could utter the retort he sensed building, he went on. "It's not even about the bending. It's...I can barely describe it. Like a part of me just died. It's not anger, it's not sadness...it's a void. Like a piece of scorched earth where nothing will ever grow again."

"Then just...let me be here. To listen to you and have your back." She rubbed his arm through the blanket, and he couldn't help a pleasant twinge at that. "At the very least, let me keep you from getting your drunk ass kicked in back alleys."

He shrugged. "Are there any back alleys to get my ass kicked in here?"

A snort. "Okay, I'll give you that one." She sighed. "You don't have to be awake for this. You're in pain. Just...sleep it off for now. We can talk again later if you want."

He shook his head, despite stifling a betraying yawn. "I don't think I could sleep now if I tried." It wasn't really a lie. While his body was still more than weary enough for it, his mind was cluttered with far too much debris.

A long pause. And then he felt the mattress behind him sink in a distinctive way, and the unmistakeable sensation of a warm body pressing close in back of him through the covers. Spooning around him almost protectively, a strong arm pulling him back until his head nestled against her collar. His breath caught, and he barely managed to choke out a gasp of surprise. And maybe a little wariness.

"K-Korra?! What are you--"

"Shhh." He heard the distinctive sound of water being bended, and a sensation of something not quite cool but not really warm, either flowed from the side of his face down through the rest of him. Making his mind relax along with his body, until he couldn't keep his eyes open any longer.

"Don't worry about it anymore tonight," he barely heard her say. Her fingers combed through his hair, tucking it behind his ear. Gentle and soothing. "Just sleep. I'm not going anywhere."

He couldn't even acknowledge he'd heard her, or how safe it made him feel, before he finally fell into the first and best sleep he'd had in weeks.

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