Korra rarely gets taken by surprise. It is more in Korra's nature to be the one surprising others, both those of her inner circle and the whole of the outer world. She is not one to follow tradition merely for tradition's sake, nor is she one to let others dictate her path. Korra forges ahead on her own ideals. The girl, avatar or not, is spontaneous and reckless, often getting herself, and others by proxy, into a great variety of wonderful adventures and embarrassing mishaps. And the bender learns from her mistakes, the incidents which she chooses to categorize as such, so that she can avoid future pitfalls; she has an extensive library from which to pull from.
So when she finds herself, back against the wall of the decorative entryway with long, lean limbs boxing her in, brushing their fabric coverings over her bare shoulders, Korra is frustrated. The girl is trying to escape, not just her current man-made hindrance, but the party, the people, the questions, him. She needs some air because she can see - she sees everything - and he can't. He is with Korra, is supposed to be with Korra, but he's looking at her instead. And she can't do this. She can't hang on his arm all night pretending to be the lady that she isn't, swallowing her self to be more like her. Korra wants to run, and keep running, because this isn't an enemy she can defeat with her bending. But instead, she's been caught.
"What's the rush, Uhvatar?" He breathes into her ear, leaning close. "Running away?"
Korra's eyes widen, shocked that she's been read so quickly, before settling into something akin to defiance. "Let me go, Tahno."
"I don't think so," he drawls out slowly, emphasising each word with care. "I've watched the three of you dance around all night. I must say, it seems that you've gotten the short end of the stick."
"What's it to you?" The girl huffs, wanting nothing more than to punch that smirk off of his pretty-boy face. But she won't. Because even though he is irritating as hell, he's the only one who has understood, the only one she has been able to really talk to lately. After all, he sees that mask in his nightmares too.
"Why, Korra, you wound me." His face contorts into a semblance of hurt, but it's just a feint because this is a part of the game they have started to play. "I was under the impression that we were friends."
She relaxes, just a bit, because the banter is familiar and she can play this role. "Yeah, well, friends don't trap friends against cold walls, Tahno."
"Don't worry, I'll let you return the favor later." The girl rolls her eyes at his comment, so he steps forward, resting against the wall with his elbows rather than his hands. "Oh, I know you've thought about it."
"Tahno!" Her voice comes out little more than a frantic squeak. "Stop it! He's looking over here."
"I know." Her purrs into neck, looking up at her from a devilish angle as he fixes the thin strip of her dress that has fallen off of her shoulder. "Look up, Uhvatar."
"What?" Korra starts to question, but is cut off by soft lips covering her own. She freezes, too shocked at first to react. But his lips are warm and inviting, so she melts, little by little, until somehow she's the one that has stuck her tongue in his mouth and he has pulled her off the wall and into his arms.
"Mistletoe," he comments when they are done, thoroughly pleased with himself. "How much do you know about the tradition?"
"Just that if a guy catches a girl under it, she's obligated to kiss him." She wrinkles her nose, curious, and feeling just a bit guilty about the situation. She pushes the feeling down, preferring the pleasant tingle of excitement instead, and reminds herself that their current intimacy is merely for tradition's sake. "Is there more to it?"
"Actually," he reaches up to harvest one of the small white berries from the bouquet above them, "the tradition was started as a way for gentlemen to compete for the affections of a woman, without resorting to the duels that had previously been in fashion. No doubt a non-bender came up with the idea." Tahno pauses, checking to see that his rival is still otherwise occupied. He has seen them, Tahno is certain, but Mako is not making his way over as of yet. "Each branch of mistletoe has only a certain number of kisses it can grant. Tradition states that every man is supposed to give a berry to the girl he kisses. When the plant is out of berries, well, you're out of luck."
"I see. But why mistletoe? Isn't it kind of hard to find?" Korra queries.
"Some earthbending tribes believe the plant has medicinal properties," Tahno explains, placing the berry he has plucked into Korra's hand, "Namely fertility. So when you give a girl your berry... well, I think you catch the drift."
Korra's cheeks go a beautiful, blushing red and she manages to stutter, "And...And if the girl accepts?"
"When you finally leave that jerkbender, be sure to find me." Tahno turns to retreat, sending her boyfriend a mocking smirk and putting an arm around her neck. "I'll finish the story then."
Korra watches him exit before looking back into the room. The party is still going full swing and her boyfriend's eyes are on someone else again, so she leaves too. Out in the snow-dusted streets, her eyes drift back down to her palm. Realization comes upon her, swift and strong as the north wind. She is Korra and Korra doesn't do tradition for tradition's sake. She clenches her fists and runs to catch up.