Korra woke slowly and painfully, grateful that the room was dim as she groaned.
“Oh, good. The Avatar is awake.”
At that familiar voice, her eyes snapped open, and she turned towards it, only to gasp as her limbs screamed in protest. Her pained hisses faded into the sound of the metal shackles around her wrists and ankles, and the chains attached to them, rattling against the cement floor as she writhed in agony.
By the time it died down enough for her to slowly move again, that haunting and familiar white mask was leaning over her again.
“Couldn’t...come get us...yourself...Amon?” she asked, struggling for each breath.
“I had arrangements to make,” the man said curtly, pulling back before Korra could think of any sort of attack to use at this close range. He walked out of her line of sight, and she turned her head slowly to follow him, only to freeze at the sight of Mako on the other side of the small room, still unconscious and just as restrained as her. Except where she was chained on her back, he was on his stomach, sprawled out across the floor.
“I apologize for your discomfort,” the man said with mock sincerity. “But it is difficult to block enough chi to stop you from bending the multiple elements under your control, without killing you in the process.”
“Why don’t you take off these restraints and try facing me?” she snapped. “I don’t need bending to take you.”
The man just laughed but didn’t answer, the sound freezing her spine as she tried to move again, tried desperately to look for a way out. She caught sight of Mako again and was caught between wanting him to wake up, and wanting him to stay out so Amon wouldn’t start...whatever it was he had planned.
Bolin was already free - but now that was no longer consolation on its own. Instead, she prayed to the Spirits, to her past lives, to anybody listening that Bolin could get reinforcements fast enough to save them.
“What do you want?” she asked finally as she stopped her movements, trying something else instead. “You have me - you can let him go. You don’t need him.” She wasn’t going to let Mako get hurt because of her.
Amon didn’t respond, looking at her once before leaning against a wall by the door. He rapped the door once with his mechanically-gloved knuckles, and a moment later, his Lieutenant came in.
Korra waited for him to say something, but he only stood looming over Mako, a sight which almost made her want to move again. Instead, she paid attention to the door, trying to figure out what type it was, how it locked (if it did), before staring hopelessly down at her shackles.
She really should’ve taken Jinora up on those lock picking lessons.
Grunting in frustration, she tried to push herself up, only to realize the chains were so short, she could only lie there.
Just as she was trying to think of how she could possibly use this to her advantage, she heard groan the other side of the room, and looked over to see Mako stirring.
It would’ve been a relief if it hadn’t seemed to be exactly what the two Equalists were waiting for.
From his angle, the first thing Mako saw was Korra, and she wanted to smile reassuringly - but right now, she didn’t even have it in her to lie that much. Especially when a moment later, he turned his head and saw the other two standing over him.
“Welcome back to the world of the living, Mako,” the Lieutenant said, pulling something out from one of the sheaths strapped to his back.
Mako’s chains were longer, enough for him to strike out immediately at the Lieutenant standing over him. Korra cheered when the man stumbled back, clutching at the thigh Mako had hit.
But then she realized what the Lieutenant had pulled out was a shockstick.
“Mako!” she shouted, but there was nothing she could do - and neither could Mako, who tried fruitlessly to escape.
Korra screamed with Mako as the bright bolts of electricity seemed to wrap around his body, leaving him a writhing, screaming wreck of her friend in the chains across the floor.
The Lieutenant pulled the stick away, and Korra jerked at her chains again, not caring about the pain and blood coming from her wrists as she shouted “Mako!” over and over again. For a moment, he was limp, before slowly he twisted his head to look at her.
“Still here...” he murmured, so low she barely heard him.
“For now,” Amon said with something that could almost be cheerfulness in his voice.
“What do you want?!” she shouted. “Whatever it is, I’ll try-”
“No!” Mako cried out, gasping as the Lieutenant kicked him. “Don’t-” Another kick. “-give him-” Another kick. “Anything!”
“Stop,” Korra said hoarsely. Mako or the Lieutenant, she didn’t know, just that it needed to stop.
Instead, the Lieutenant prodded Mako with the shock again, and Korra screamed out loud as Mako jerked in his bonds, scream cut off by an even more terrifying choking sound when he fell to the ground as the shock stick mercifully sputtered, out of juice.
Before Korra could even think of being relieved, the Lieutenant was pulling the other one off his back. Mako was slowly pushing himself up, managing to get to his knees before the Lieutenant shoved him down.
“What do you want?!” Korra shouted.
“It’s not about what I want,” Amon said simply.
“Please,” she begged, eyes zipping between Mako and Amon. “Just tell me.”
“That would ruin all the fun,” Amon said, then gestured for the other man to move.
Mako tried desperately to twist his body away from the shock stick to no avail, and this time he screamed all the way through, both Amon and the Lieutenant ignoring her repeated, “Please, please, whatever you want, just stop.”
Korra’s ears were still ringing when the Lieutenant pulled the shock stick away. Mako was breathing heavily on the floor, thankfully no longer conscious.
“What do you want?” she asked, throat prickling from the charge left in the air.
“The Avatar,” Amon said. “All of them.”
Korra frowned in confusion, before understanding dawned on her.
“So simple, Avatar Korra,” Amon said.
“If I give you what you want, you’ll just kill him anyway,” she said, sounding weak even to her ears as she looked at Mako.
“I’m killing him no matter what,” Amon said. “It’s only a matter of how much you will let him suffer before he dies.”
The Lieutenant left, and Amon took his place standing over Mako, simply staring at him. She tried to think of a way out, trying to see if there was anything within reach on her body to at least try to pick the locks.
Unsurprisingly, there was nothing.
“I’m not going into the Avatar state,” she said finally. “No matter what you do?”
“Not even for him?” Amon asked, voice sounding disturbingly amused.
“No,” she said firmly. She was cornered and trapped beyond anything she’d thought possible, and she had no leverage over her captor. But this, she could control.
“The balance of the world is more important than me...or Mako.” No matter how much it felt otherwise.
“Balance,” Amon sneered. “You benders don’t create balance - you destroy it!”
Korra rolled her eyes but didn’t respond.
Not even when Amon strode over and kicked her stomach. She swore at the pain and struggled in the chains to curl up, to hold her abdomen, to do something. But she said no more about bending. There was nothing she could say to the man to sway him, not tonight.
“What makes you so sure you can control it?” Amon asked instead of attacking her again. “How much do you know about who you are? What you are? You can turn into a super power with no control, no care for who or what is around you. You will destroy everything in your path if I don’t kill you.”
“So do it!” Korra snapped. “I’m here. I can’t fight back. I’ll reincarnate and come back for you again when you’re an old man-”
“We both know the Avatar will never come back if you’re killed in the Avatar State.”
She swallowed - she’d been hoping he wouldn’t know that.
“I’m not going into the Avatar state,” she said. “So let him go! He serve no purpose for you anymore!”
She jerked her head away, facing Mako, and blinked in surprise to see his open eyes staring back at her in fear.
He heard everything.
“As if I’d let a bender go free to roam among the streets,” Amon said with disgust.
“Coward,” Mako said weakly from across the room. “You’re doing the...right thing...Korra.”
Her name faded on his lips as Amon slowly turned around.
“Cute,” Amon said as he walked back over to Mako’s side. “Very cute.”
Then Amon lifted his foot and stomped down on Mako’s wrist, just beside the shackle.
Korra turned away, hating herself as she scrunched her eyes shut. Unfortunately, that just made his weak scream all the more clearer in her ears.
“Not. Gon’. Break. Me,” Mako said, and Korra had to turn back, had to smile at Mako as he smirked up at Amon.
And then she had to cry again as Amon stepped on the broken wrist again, and Mako’s scream trailed off into loud cries, before fading away into constant whimpers of pain even he couldn’t suppress.
“I’m sorry,” Korra gasped out, swallowing over and over again to keep the tears from falling. “I’m so sorry, Mako.”
His lips twitched in something approaching a weak smile.
Before either of them could try to reassure each other, the metal door opened, and the Lieutenant came back in.
Carrying two shock sticks, with two more strapped to his back.
Amon made a single hand gesture, and Korra barely had time to process it before Mako was screaming again, a sound that quickly trailed off into pained cries that barely escaped his lungs as he twitched and the electricity coursed through his body.
Korra suddenly hated that Mako was a firebender right then - if he weren’t, he would still be unconscious.
Or dead, though right now Mako probably wished he was.
Then again, if he were’t a bender, he wouldn’t be here in the first place.
During a brief moment of respite, Mako was still jerking in his chains, but he reached out, and Korra did as well, as much as she could. What she wouldn’t give just to be able to hold his hand right now, electricity be damned.
Then the shock sticks came back.
Her chains and his rattled with their movements as the Lieutenant kept going until his current shock stick ran out of power, and Mako was gasping and choking on the floor in his chains. The looming man tossed it across the floor, and held up the other stick.
Desperate, Korra yanked at her bonds again, ignoring the searing pain coming from her wrists and the blood splattering from them all over the place, but the only thing she could reach was herself, the clothing wiping away some of the blood and smearing it around even more.
She twisted her body enough to put some of her garmets within reach of her hands, and started tearing, stopping barely a moment to adjust to the pain before ripping it again, and again, loudly. There wasn’t anything she could really do with the strips of clothing themselves, but-
Amon and the Lieutenant were on her instantly crouching as they tried to grab her, and twisted and rotated her arm to jam her elbow into the Lieutenant’s side, sending him crashing forward into Amon. As the two men tried to untangle themselves on top of her, she reached out to try and grab something, keys-
A limb appeared right in front of her face, and she reached out with her teeth and snagged it, yanking and unbalancing Amon. As creepy and disturbing as it was to have him so intimately sprawled across her, it was the only way to keep him in range as she raised her knees up and jammed it between his legs, making him jerk and choke. He reached up and punched her, in the shoulder, the chest, and jammed his elbows into her thighs, straddling her as she fought against his weight.
She reached out again as the Lieutenant rammed a fist into her side, before backhanding her as she tried to grab onto something useful to get her and Mako out.
What she got was Amon yanking one of the Lieutenant’s stock sticks out of its holster and jamming it into her side.
Korra screamed, the sound of Mako’s furious shouts distant as the lightening and pain ran through her body, filled her up and surrounded her, going on for eternity.
Even when it stopped, she twitched, still behind held down by Amon astride her hips. It was a wonder the man wasn’t hard, but Korra was grateful for small mercies. Minuscule ones, even.
She could feel new bruises and cuts forming on top of the old as the Lieutenant pulled Amon up off of her, and she turned her head to see Mako staring at them in horror.
“Smart girl,” Amon said, before ramming his heel into her crotch, and while she wasn’t a man it still hurt and she jerked and arched in the chains and screamed as he dug his toes into her abs again. “But not smart enough.”
There was more blood now, but at least it was hers and not Mako’s.
Unfortunately, that didn’t last long.
She was too exhausted to move, and could only watch helplessly and fight down every spiritual instinct trying desperately to take control as the Lieutenant unloaded what was left of the last two shock sticks into Mako. Every moment, she was tempted to let go, to stop holding back and let them take over, let the knowledge and training and power of a thousand avatars before her rip Amon and the Lieutenant and the entire Equalist base into shreds.
But she knew, Amon would kill her before she would even get started. And not only would that not help Mako, that would leave the world bereft of any Avatar ever again.
So she watched. She watched as they moved on from shock sticks to fists and feet, beating into Mako, and her when she started screaming obscenities about Amon and the Lieutenant’s lineages. They brought out the knives soon after that, and Korra tried to make another move then when one of them stepped too close.
They stabbed the flesh of her shin, and as blood started to leak out, they sliced into Mako, stopping only when he fell unconscious to get him awake again - awake and screaming.
She and Mako were both begging now. The spirits, Amon, the Lieutenant, to stop, to leave them alone.
To kill them.
“It would be so easy,” Amon said when Korra murmured please, fatigue and blood loss exhausting her even more. “You can end this, Avatar Korra.”
Not Korra. Avatar Korra. She loved Mako, but she had duties, to Republic City, to the world, and to future generations.
No matter how much she wanted to-
Not even when Amon pressed a foot against Mako’s throat.
“I wonder,” Amon said conversationally as he started to lean down, Mako choking as his air was slowly cut off. “Would killing him be enough to do it?”
She tried to scoff, tried to shake her head, but was too tired, and too scared.
Because yes, it probably would be enough.
“Let’s find out-”
Both Amon and the Lieutenant’s heads snapped up at the sounds of explosions, crashes, and the faint sounds of fighting came from outside the doors.
“I guess we’ll have to wait,” Amon said, stepping away from Mako.
But Mako wasn’t moving. His eyes were open, but he wasn’t moving, yet his chest was moving. At least she thought so - her vision was too hazy to see clearly.
“We’ll resume once we finished attending to other matters,” Amon said politely enough, before jerking his hand and leaving the room, the Lieutenant staying in the room.
The Lieutenant looked down at them both, before raising two shock sticks.
“Seeing as we’re on a much tighter schedule,” were the only words he said before sticking them both with the lightning prods.
Mako’s screams were a strange echo to her own as the Lieutenant used up the last of the power in the two sticks, pushing it into their soft bellies until they were completely out of juice before he tossed them away. The clatter barely registered for her as she tried to move her restrained limbs, her body wanting all that electricity out.
When she couldn’t move and she was still twitching, her head landed so she could see Mako, who’s arm was outstretched towards her again. Korra knew she was crying and wishing she could even more her arm, but the hurthurthurt and tired and please stop were all too much.
For a moment, the Lieutenant didn’t respond to either of them.
He did, however, move at the sound of clambering feet outside, and the familiar sound of metal whips and chords slicing through the air.
The cavalry was here.
The door slammed open, and Korra never thought she’d be so glad to see Chief Bei Fong, but right now she was.
“Metalbending tyrant,” the Lieutenant hissed.
“Better than a genocidal one,” the Chief snapped. “You’re under arrest for kidnapping, and by the looks of it, torture.”
Korra tried to keep track of the fight, tried to say something, tried to help or not be so helpless, but it was moving too fast. Instead, she focused on Mako between all the feet, watching as his eyes glassed over, before they closed completely.
Good. He deserved the bliss of olbivion.
Who was saying her name?
“Mako,” she mumbled at her. “Needs...help...”
“Both of you need help,” Bei Fong said sternly, through in her voice was a waver, almost tender, that Korra had never heard from the stern police chief before.
“He needs...more than me...” she said, trying desperately to make her understand, what they did to Mako to get to her. She jerked her far wrist to point over her body at him, but Bei Fong grabbed her wrist.
“Hold still, let me get this off you,” the police chief said.
Korra was about to protest again, when she saw two more cops enter. “Deal with him!” Bei Fong shouted without looking up from where she freed Korra’s wrist, and Korra sighed in relief.
“Medics are on their way, ma’am,” one of the other cops said as he freed Mako.
As soon as Bei Fong freed her other hand, Korra grasped at the older woman’s arm. Her hand barely brushed Bei Fong’s, but it caught her attention.
“He’ll be okay?” she asked desperately.
The woman blinked in surprise, before saying, “I don’t know. Probably. But we can’t know for sure.”
Korra nodded - or tried to anyway - as the police chief continued on with her ankles. She tried to push herself up, only to have another hand press down on her chest - a waterbending medic.
“Stay down, Avatar,” the man said kindly, kneeling by her.
“Mako,” Korra mumbled.
“My partner is getting him,” the man promised.
Korra looked over to see that indeed, Mako was freed and there were two medics over him, one a waterbender and one a normal medic.
She kept her eyes on Mako’s still face as she felt the water begin to move through her leg, her wrists, her stomach, patching her back together. She watched them work on Mako, she watched as the other two cops started to lift up Mako, and listened at the flood of people running just outside the door - yet she couldn’t see them. Oddly disorienting.
Mako was carried out the door, and Korra could see him no more. Especially when Bei Fong was kneeling beside her again.
“C’mon, punk, let’s get you out of here,” Bei Fong said, before lifting up Korra like a rag doll, the metal chords of her uniform spreading out under her broken body. Korra clutched at her armor, and the woman was surprisingly gentle in taking her outside and setting her down on a stretcher inside a larger room, right next to Mako.
He was still unconscious - thank the spirits for small mercies - but she reached out and took his hand in hers anyway.
“I’m sorry, Mako,” she said lowly, unable to look away from his bruised face, slack in sleep. “I’m so sorry. For everything.”
The bruises were the last thing she saw before she followed him into sweet darkness.