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“So, do you like it? The house, I mean.” His voice is low and husky, nervousness laced in it. While setting down her single suitcase filled with clothes with a small thud, he looks at her and rolls the sleeves of his button up to his elbows.

 

Do you like it? She really thinks about it. It’s a loaded question. Being here for a mere fifteen minutes and he’s already asking questions that usually take months, maybe even years to answer. How can she judge something based off of looks alone? For all she knew, the house could be haunted, filled with ghosts or demons or ghouls ready to kill her in her sleep. She tries to not get ahead of herself.

 

It is big and cozy, and it looks like something akin to those mansions in magazines. Luxurious, but lifeless.

 

Vivid blue eyes scan the room, her bedroom, as she fumbles with the silver ring in her hand. The soft beige walls, the large bed with plush white sheets, the antique furniture, the posh, dim light situated above them. She feels spoiled. She’s not used to it. It is similar to that of culture shock and she doesn’t know how to react. She feels like a princess and she believes that he no doubt would do anything in his power to make her happy, with the little that they know of one another. But then she can sense his gaze on her, waiting for her response.

 

Turning to the man she’s supposed to view as a father, Korra smiles. “I love it,” she half lied. She did like it, but it just felt too new to her. Maybe in time she’ll feel less like a stranger in her new home.

 

A sigh of relief leaves him as his broad shoulders visibly relax. “I’m glad you do.”

 

Korra walks into her room, running the pads of her fingers along the fine wood and placing the ring delicately on a shelf. She can still sense his gaze on her, and looks over her shoulder to meet his pale blue eyes. He’s leaning against the frame of the door, the tiniest of smirks lining his lips. The man must be proud of how the room turned out. She imagined him designing it with her in mind, despite barely knowing her on a personal level. A strange shiver crawls through her body, making her immediately look away.

 

“Umm, why do you want me?” Her voice is soft, meek. Reaching the bed, Korra hesitantly sits on it, sinking into the plush mattress. She can’t help but to lay down into the soft white sheets beneath her. The ones at the orphanage were usually worn down to a thin piece of rough fabric as the years of the establishment shone through. She can only remember the vague feeling of a new blanket wrapped around her. At that time, she was still with her real parents.

 

“Pardon?” The man strides into her room, the tiny smirk widening as he watches her hesitantly snuggle into the bed like a cautious feline. Tarrlok settles next to her, lying with his arms behind his head.

 

“Why do you want me?” She repeats. “You know I’m not exactly a child, I’m a seventeen year old. Usually people that come by the orphanage want a little kid,” She remembers people fawning over the babbling babies. “Like the babies in diaper or baby food commercials, especially that one on Flameo Family.”

 

She’s been in the orphanage for five years, and she can understand why adults prefer babies and toddlers rather than the teenagers about to go off to college. But that did not stop Korra from wanting a family. Korra had this notion that she would get adopted by a loving family, the picture-perfect family. One with a mom, a dad, and maybe a sibling or two. But that’s just a wish that wouldn’t happen. Reality settles on her shoulders and instead she’s adopted by a single man.

 

Not that it is a problem, but she wishes that she could feel the warmth of a loving, nurturing family. To go back in time when her real parents were there with her.

 

He laughs. A laugh that surprisingly sounds quite nice to Korra. “Personally, I prefer an older child,” He stares at the ceiling.

 

“Why’s that?” She turns to him, eying at his profile as a sudden blush colors her cheeks. She won’t say it out loud, but he has a nice face - a face that no one could help but to look at. His eyes are a piercing pale blue, fine lines showing the faintest hint of crow’s feet at the edge, his cheekbones high and sunken in, but not unhealthily so. He had a nice, defined nose and thin, determined lips, a jawline that could cut glass, and long luscious, brown hair, tied in a loose ponytail, similar to her own. He sure is handsome.

 

“I’m a politician. I’ve always wanted a family of my own, but I work long hours. I couldn’t bare the thought of leaving a little child alone with a stranger. I would want to be there for the child as much as possible.” He turns to her, meeting her gaze easily. “Older children, however, are much more capable of understanding certain circumstances and they don’t need constant monitoring, especially at your age,” he touches her ponytail, twirling the brown strands around his fingers. “And I can trust that you can handle yourself during the time I’m gone, right?”

 

“Maybe.” A mischievous smirk lines her lips. But then he chuckles softly and her smile turns the tiniest bit more genuine. “I know you said you wanted a family of your own, but I honestly can’t see you taking care of a toddler.” She said bluntly, immediately regretting saying something so honest to the man.

 

“What makes you say that?” The wicked glimmer in his eyes slightly distracts her, but decides to go along with it anyway.

 

Shrugging, she cracks her knuckles and notices him cringe, a smile lining her lips. “I don’t know, you seem a tad bit prissy.” Abruptly, her mind imagines the man in front of her changing a dirty diaper, filled with a faceless baby’s crap and she releases a bark of laughter. “You’d probably throw up trying to change a diaper.” She giggled.

 

His grip on her brown strands tightened to get her attention. “And you wouldn’t?” His voice lowered as did his lids.

 

“It’s disgusting for sure, but you see a lot of things in an orphanage, whether you want to or not.” Her shoulders shake occasionally from the giggles and recalls the first year she stayed in the orphanage when one of the caretakers was changing a baby’s diaper, piss and shit and vomit drenched the poor woman by the time she was done.

 

“Regardless, I’d venture to say I’m lucky that you’re here rather than one of those crawling creatures.” Long fingers slowly tug at the tie holding her hair together, until it falls loose. He runs his fingers through the soft strands, gently untangling the knots.

 

The smirk was effectively wiped from her face, a burning blush replacing it. Holding her breath, Korra stares at his icy eyes. Her heart pounding a million beats per minute. She’s not used to being touched like this, or being touched at all, in fact. Most kids in the orphanage kept to themselves. Most dealt with more traumatic things in their lives when compared to her own. The last time someone ran their fingers through her hair, it ended in flames.

 

She willed herself to relax, knowing Tarrlok was doing this out of affection. That he suddenly won’t combust into a burning fire right in front of her eyes. Once her body loosened up, she felt like she could melt into a puddle of goo. His touch was uncharacteristically soothing. The lethargic, gentle strokes lightly graze her scalp and promptly feels her body react to his touch.

 

Korra retraces her footsteps and wonders if he had someone special in his life. He claimed he was single, and he doesn’t have that silver or gold band wrapped around his finger. Surely, he must have someone occupying his thoughts other than her though, right? “You don’t have a wife?”

 

“No,” he said bluntly.

 

“Why not?” He is handsome to look at, she already established that, and she’s genuinely confused.

 

“No one intrigued me,” He reaches out to tuck the stray tendrils framing her face behind an ear.

 

The feather-light touch sends a chill throughout her body. “...And no one was interested in you either?” Korra asks slowly.

 

“Oh women loved me, most definitely,” He chuckled. She pictures faceless women throwing themselves at him. Does he like women with sophistication and intelligence? With compassion and warmth? Or maybe women with sensuality and witty banter? It’s a strange line of thought, thinking of these women canoodling up to the man right in front of her. Why is she even thinking about this? It is not any of her business anyways. It comes as very strange to her so Korra immediately banishes it from her mind. “But that’s besides the point, the times I was in a relationship, it never lasted long.”

 

“That’s odd,”

 

“Why do you say that?” He wraps a finger around a strand of hair.

 

“No reason,” Leaning closer to her, Tarrlok hums in acknowledgement, not wanting to push her further, and closes his eyes. She isn’t breathing any more, but she can detect his scent as it envelopes her. Oddly enough, Korra loves it, vanilla and the faint hint of cigarette smoke. Her eyes hone in on the artery pulsating on the side of his neck and for whatever reason, it calms her further, watching the steady beat.

 

As the seconds tick by, she feels the heavy pull of her lids, gradually closing shut. Their breaths eventually match each others and she tries to stifle a yawn.

 

Korra can’t remember the last time she felt at ease, especially lying here in a stranger’s bed. It’s weird and strange and odd, but lying here in the midst of summer and with her supposed father somewhat reminds her of her time with her real dad when she was only about twelve or so. It’s something she couldn’t say when she was in the orphanage, and it’s definitely not something she expected to feel when she moved into Tarrlok’s estate, especially on the first day.

 

“I’m tired.” she whispers, immediately regretting disturbing the silence. Immediately regretting she said anything because the feeling of his fingers stroking her hair stops suddenly.

 

Roused from her barely audible voice, Tarrlok takes a deep breath in, removing his hand from her loose locks and stretched his tired muscles as he is already moving away from her, “You take a nap, I’ll start making some food.” He says, but Korra’s hand quickly grasps his larger one.

 

“Stay,” She says abruptly. “Please.”

 

She doesn’t know what compelled her to do it, to pull his hand back to her, to get his attention once more. Yet she did it. Her heart was beating faster, a blush rapidly making its way to her cheeks, and the other hand grips the sheets around her tightly. It’s a stark contrast from her relaxed state just moment earlier.

 

He only stood there, his warm hand grasped in hers and she honestly did not know what she was doing. Tarrlok nodded, not saying a word, in what she presumed was understanding. He didn’t need to say anything and she didn’t need to hear it. He was watching her loosen the tight grip of her white sheets, instead to pull it over her body, making space for him. Settling in the empty spot at the edge of the bed, he laid on his side to face her. Warm arms wrapped around him and he couldn’t help feel taken aback.

 

Korra’s already getting comfortable up against him. Snuggling against his chest, breathing in his scent, eyes peacefully shut closed, and hoping to fall asleep without nightmares.

 

Just when she thought he was second guessing staying with her, she feels strong arms envelope her tinier form, his chin propped on top of her head. It’s warm and inviting and it reminds her a lot of her father’s hugs. The tiniest of smiles curved her lips and she tried to let her body relax into the warmth once again.

 

Maybe this place isn’t so bad, after all.

 


 

 

Korra!

 

Somebody was screaming her name.

 

Korra!

 

They repeated, almost in a weak cry.

 

“Korra,” she’s roused with a tiny shake of her shoulder. It’s not the weak voice she dreamt of. Instead, it’s Tarrlok’s.

 

“Huh?” Her eyes squint, scanning the room frantically.

 

“You’re crying,” His brows are furrowed in worry, a look that doesn’t suit him. The pad of his thumb gently wipes away the tears staining her cheeks and she blushes, quickly looking away from him towards the ring on her dresser.

 

“Oh, that, it’s nothing,” she laughs, but there’s no humor in it. Korra lightly bats his hand away, sitting up on the plush mattress. She hated crying in front of people. Hated the feeling of being vulnerable and pitied. She’s no stranger to the feeling, having felt that all throughout her early teens, anyway.

 

“Are you okay?” He asks gently, sitting up next to her, only to tuck the stray hairs behind her ear.

 

“...Yeah, never better.” She lied, offering him a smile that did not reach her eyes.

 

“Right,” He sighed, clearly skeptical that she was hiding something from him. Tarrlok did not want to press further. No. She’ll talk to him eventually. “Well, in any case, if you ever want to talk, I’m here.”

 

“Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.” She said stiffly. Looking away in thought, the man next to her watches her twiddling fingers.

 

As much as the sentiment was there, and she did appreciate it, she did not want to talk to him about it just yet. He’s still a stranger to her. Even though she was almost certain the caretakers at the orphanage told him everything about her past anyways. Maybe not everything, but definitely what happened to her parents. That’s what made her uneasy. Not knowing what was said to a stranger, especially with something that keeps her up at night, wishing she could take it all back. So much for confidentiality they promised.

 

She didn’t realize it until now that the sun was setting, casting the room in a soft orange glow. And that they were sitting on her bed in silence. Just the two of them. Alone. It was starting to get awkward when she really thought about it, but just as she was about to get up, Tarrlok cleared his throat.

 

“You relax and cool yourself down for now, maybe take a shower if you want. I’ll cook us something.” He was already sliding out from the warm space under the covers, when her hand reaches out for his to stop him once again.

 

He turned his gaze to her, patiently waiting. Pale blue irises lock with vivid ones and she bites her lower lip, not knowing how to go about this. Without consequence, she mentally said fuck it. Suddenly, his breath left him all at once when strong, yet feminine arms wrapped around his neck in a tight embrace.

 

“Thank you,” she breathed.

 

“For what?” He asked, body tensing at the way she nearly choked him.

 

“For adopting me,” she really did mean it. Although it was not the family she pictured in her mind, it could’ve ended up a lot worse than it is now. And if she really thought about it, Korra didn’t mind that it was just the two of them. No rivalry between siblings, no sharing of materialistic belongings, no expectations she needed to live up to. She could be the real Korra. The Korra that was left behind years ago.

 

Yes, he is a single man, but even with that thought, it doesn’t bother her that she’s the only girl in his life at the moment. That could change in a week or a month, or even a year. But at the moment, she appreciates him. She reasons that he does seem nice enough, albeit sometimes a little too condescending and smug for his own good, but nice nonetheless. Selfishly, she kind of revels in that undivided attention. It’s more than what she received in the orphanage. She’s not used to it, but Korra thinks she can learn to love it in due time.

 

A smile curved his lips as his arms enveloped her, inhaling her sweet fragrance. The tight embrace only lasts a few seconds, he does not want it start getting awkward again, but he can sense it is genuine.

 

“What would you like for dinner? It’s going to be a long night with what we need to discuss,” he puts some distance between them, looking into her blue depths.

 

“Surprise me,” she shrugged, smiling mischievously as he sighed.

 

“Ok, surprise it is,” he chuckled, moving towards the door. She gets out of bed and he almost disappears from her view - all but a hand holding the door frame - but then she remembers.

 

“Oh, before I forget, where are the towels?” She asked sheepishly, standing at the foot of her bed.

 

“There should be some fresh towels on the bathroom counter,” his head pops from behind the wooden frame. “If not, they’re in the cabinet below the sink.”

 

“Thanks, Tarrlok.” she smiles again.

 

“Please call me dad or father, since I technically am now.” He huffs.

 

“Nah, I like Tarrlok,” Korra teased, trying to make the atmosphere more lighthearted.

 

With a slight roll of his eyes, Tarrlok disappears to what she assumed will be the kitchen. She hopes he’s a good chef. Hoping that she doesn’t have to cook all the time or that she has to lie and deal with the grotesque pieces of food he made. Already having to go through that at the orphanage was tough, never again did she want to experience that.

 

Padding along to her suitcase, Korra ruffles through her clothes carelessly, thinking she’ll end up folding them again as she settles into her new home. Setting aside numerous articles of clothes, she pulls out some underwear, shorts, and a baggy shirt, something she usually wears to sleep, especially in the hot and humid nights in the orphanage.

 

With the clothes grasped in one hand and the other closed the suitcase shut with a thud, Korra walks into the room attached to hers.

 

Just like the rest of the house, the bathroom is nothing short of luxurious. The marble tiles that are a shade different from the ones outside her room, glass separating the shower, fresh orchids placed on the counter - along with scented candles, a stereo, and the stack of fresh towels.

 

Spirits, this is an intimidating turn around from the orphanage. From a shared, grimey bathroom with clumped hair blocking the drain, to this, Korra mildly wonders how it would feel to be courted by Tarrlok. Whoever the girl was, they were sure to be spoiled rotten.

 

Shaking her head, Korra places the pile of clothes on the cold counter and strips herself of her clothes, landing in a heap on the floor. It really is a long day.

 

 

The scent of delicious food wafted throughout the huge house. It’s something very familiar to her, something her mother would make, but she couldn’t quite place her finger on it, knowing it was surely something heavenly by the way her mouth watered.

 

Abruptly, her stomach growled. Not realizing until now that she barely ate a thing today, she pats herself dry with the soft towel Tarrlok prepared for her and wraps it around her dripping strands.

 

Quickly putting some clothes on, Korra stumbled through her room to get her brush. Hurriedly she throws the piece of cloth on her bed, ignoring that it’s still damp and will eventually leave an outline on her sheets. She brushes her hair, yanking at the tangles in her wet hair that would make surely Tarrlok wince.

 

She quickly makes her way down the marble stairs and notes the scent of cooking food intensifies. Unconsciously placing a hand on her stomach, she follows the scent, ending up in the kitchen as he showed her earlier in the day. His back is to her as he slaves away over the stove. He sports a pink, frilly apron that nearly makes her giggle, but decided against it.

 

Her focus roves from the apron tied around his neck to the outline of his physique. Korra notes that he has a nice back, even through his button up that is now wrinkled because of their nap.

 

Stopping that line of thought, she quietly moves to his side, attempting to catch a peek at the delicious scent.

 

“What’s that?” She points her index finger towards the fried pieces of food.

 

“Tempura and miso soup,” he said, the smile audible in his voice.

 

Korra straightens her body as if burned, hands on her hips with a derpy expression on her face. “Did the caretakers tell you everything about me, or are you a mind reader?”

 

“Neither,” he laughs, looking over his shoulder with a glimmer of mirth in his eyes. “Why, do you like tempura and miso soup?”

 

“Like it? More like love it. It’s my favorite,” She smiled. Inhaling the scrumptious scent, she danced closer to his side, watching as he deftly adds nori to the simmering water. Silence greets them as the only sound comes from the bubbling oil. “You know what’s weird?” She looks at him, silently noting their height difference, the top of her head barely grazing his shoulder.

 

“What?” He prompts.

 

“My mom would make tempura and miso soup every Saturday, kinda like today. Mainly because my dad would always get home from work earlier on Saturdays. I used to hate it because of the seaweed, but over time it became my favorite because of her.” She paused, staring at the shrimp frying in the boiling oil. She groaned as she recalled the tasty meal. “Oh and then she would always serve mine with this delicious soba that my grandmother used to make.” Tarrlok smiled when he snuck glance at her, her eyes glazed over and her nearly watering mouth. “Spirits, I think that’s the best tempura I’ve had. But maybe I’m being biased, I don’t know. Sorry, I’m rambling,”

 

“No, no, don’t be sorry.” He turns the frying shrimp with the chopsticks in his hand. “Reminiscing is a good thing, although I do hope my cooking will do it justice.” He nudges her with his elbow.

 

“By the way it smells, I can already tell you're an amazing cook.” She pokes his bicep harder in mild revenge. Slightly flinching, he did not realize how strong she is, despite the notable muscles on her arms.

 

“You’re making me blush, Korra,” he smirks. But then he sees a hand creeping to the dish of cooked shrimp. He lightly smacks the hand away. “Not until we’re at the table.”

 

“But Tarrloooooook, I barely ate anything all day and I’m starving .” She pouts, blue eyes growing bigger and bigger as she pleas. “You don’t want your child to starve, do you?”

 

“Korra,” he warns. That low voice of his turning slightly stern, similar to that of a school teacher. She sure did have those puppy eyes down to perfection.

 

“Pleaaaaaase?” Latching onto his arm, she lies her cheek against his deltoid, thinking she’ll get through to him. Nobody could resist her puppy eyes. But he stands there unfazed. Was he used to this? She mildly wonders who in seven hells would make him immune to her puppy eyes. Korra is about to think that he won’t give in, but then she hears and feels him resign his resolve with a sigh.

 

“Fine, only one.” He yields, pointing the tips of the chopsticks vaguely to the dish of cooked tempura.

 

“Thank you!” She squeals. Her body heat is gone from his side and immediately she’s biting into the fried shrimp with a crunch, groaning in pleasure. A smug smirk settles on his face and she’s tempted to wipe it away. Finishing half of the shrimp, she places the other half in front of him in offering.

 

Pale blue eyes immediately lock with hers in curiosity, and cautiously leans forward.

 

“What? I’m not contagious,” she says slightly offended. Perfectly white teeth sink into the shrimp, chewing the meat in suspicion. Korra rolled her eyes as she took the last bite, tossing the tail onto the dish.

 

“Now then, now that that’s over, set the table up so we can eat soon, the rice is in the cooker.” Although it’s the last thing Korra wants to do, she acquiesces, wanting food to fill her stomach more than push his buttons any further. She has time to do that later anyways.

 

Placing a set of bowls, one larger than the other, a pair of chopsticks and a duck spoon for each of them at the table, she reaches for an empty bowl and scoops rice into the ceramic dish. She watches him curiously from the corner of her eyes. Moving about the kitchen, Korra pours them a glass of water, setting them onto the table, only to sit collectively at one of the chairs. Chin in her hands, patiently waiting. Observing.

 

It’s nothing she ever imagined with Tarrlok. When she first met him at the orphanage, she suspected he had a butler or maid tending to his needs at every call. But now that she knows that it’s just him in this huge, luxurious house he has, it's a lonely lifestyle for sure.

 

Lonely. It really is a strange thought that never crossed her mind. Thinking that Tarrlok could even feel that way is a thought that doesn’t come easily. From the little she knows of him, she can’t for the life of her take the image of his smirking, charismatic face out of her mind and think that he’s a lonesome man in his late thirties. Maybe he's like her. Maybe he carefully guards that loneliness. Maybe he puts a mask on for everybody.

 

Korra’s eyes trail back to his tall form, watching as he turns off the stove and makes his way to her. A steaming plate and pot are grasped in his hold. Her thoughts are broken when the scent of miso soup and tempura are placed between the two of them.

 

“And here we are,” He says, smirking in satisfaction at his creation.

 

Grabbing her bowl, he fills it with rice and shrimp tempura, spooning the soup into her smaller bowl as he does the same to his own.

 

The only sound comes from the ticking clock hung on the wall. It’s too quiet for her. She’s used to the other kids fighting for the pieces of food the caretakers made them, even if the food was disgusting.

 

They eat in silence and Korra nearly groans again at how delectable the food is. Her brows furrow in pleasure. If someone were to ask about Tarrlok’s expertise in cooking, she would rave about the food he makes with such finesse. This is the only dish she had the pleasure in tasting so far, but the shrimp and soup in her mouth practically gives her tastebuds an orgasm, something that does not go unnoticed by the man in front of her.

 

“This is so delicious, Tarrlok.” She says over the mouthful of food.

 

“Well, I can’t say that the praise does not boast my pride, because then I’d be lying.” He tries to conceal the amused smile behind his spoon, but a laugh escapes, sipping at the steaming soup.

 

“I’m serious, how did you learn to cook like this, you’re like a wizard.” She smirks as she caught the beginnings of pink tinging his cheeks. Never had she thought a grown man could blush, but she was proven wrong.

 

“I don’t know how I feel about being called a wizard,” he looks away, recalling the times women called him anything but his name. Did any of them call him a wizard? Did she only say that to poke fun at his age? Was he already greying?

 

“Tarrlok,” she pulls him out of his reverie with a smile, clearly knowing what he was thinking.

 

“Ah, right, well I learned on my own. I wouldn’t allow myself to eat out everyday and grow flabby with whale blubber.” He said dismissively, biting into the shrimp. A snort followed, as did the boisterous laugh from the girl opposite of him.

 

“I’ve never heard of someone call fat as whale blubber,” she threw her head back in laughter.

 

“Really? Hmm,” he swore he heard it from some young fellow. Despite her unladylike manner, it’s a good picture to witness her laughing. He wanted to make her feel at home, feel loved, and he would do anything for her to feel that way. Even if it is through playful banter at his expense.

 

“Even if you filled yourself with so-called whale blubber, you don’t need to worry.” She stuffed her mouth with rice.

 

“Are you saying that I have a nice body?” He said. Straight white teeth peeked through the smirk as his voice was laced with amusement.

 

“No! I mean, it’s not terrible,” she grumbled, some food falling out of her mouth. “What I meant was that you seem like the type to keep yourself busy, like working out or getting in touch with your hobbies when you don’t have anything else to do.” Korra shrugged.

 

“In that case, you’re correct.” He confirmed, lids lowering to watch her eat in mild fascination.

 

“See?” She smiled.

 

There’s a lapse of silence again and at the moment it’s surprisingly comforting. Not awkward, for once, since the day started.

 

Clearing his throat, he breaks the muteness.

 

“So, I know I said it’s going to be a long night,” He starts, slowly stirring his soup. “But we do need to settle some things.”

 

“Like?” A skeptical gleam in her eyes form.

 

“Like… going to school,” he says gently, meeting her blue eyes as she takes a bite of fried shrimp with a crunch. Tarrlok slightly winces.

 

“Oh of course, I can’t miss that for the world.” She grunts through a mouthful of food. Has she always been this undignified? In a weird sort of way, he finds this endearing.

 

“I already enrolled you in Republic City High.” He said bluntly.

 

“Great.” Her brow twitched, sipping at her soup.

 

“Hey now, look at the bright side, at least it’s your senior year. Isn’t that what high schoolers look forward to?” He tried.

 

“Yeah, but I don’t know anyone. What good is my last year of high school without any friends?” She did have a point. But that aside Tarrlok knew she would make friends. She’s an easily lovable girl.

 

“Korra, you’ll make friends.” He said matter of factly.

 

“How can you be so sure?” She mumbles skeptically.

 

“I’m not, but I have a feeling you will and that same feeling has an inkling that you’ll like it there.”

 

“Me. Liking school.” That incredulous look on her face makes him want to chuckle. He hides it well with a straight face.

 

“Yes,” he confirms.

 

“Really?” She says, clearly doubting him.

 

“Yes,” he repeats, his already nice voice laced with a teasing tone.

 

“Hmm,” She paused, humming to herself in thought. Korra can tell he was watching her curiously by the way he ate his food slowly. Stuffing her mouth again, she continued, “Are you sure you got the right Korra?”

 

“Of course I did. The one with bright blue eyes and sharp tongue.” He teases.

 

“Gee, you really know how to flatter a girl,” Korra deadpans, but the glint in her luminous eyes tell a different story. She bites into the last of her tempura and sits back, stirring at the stagnant soup. Not wanting to delve into it further, she changes the topic. “Anyway, when do I start school?”

 

“Wednesday.” He notes with the slightest of smirks that she does not go further.

 

“They start in the middle of the week?” She says in disbelief.

 

“Yes, I assumed all schools started then.”

 

“That’s odd,” She gulps the last of the soup.

 

“Why is it odd? Did your old school not start on Wednesday?” He took a drink of water.

 

“No! They started on a Monday like any normal school should.” The girl in front of him giggles, a hand placed over her stomach.

 

“In any case, you have a few more days to get adjusted before meeting new people.”

 

“Right,”

 

“It won’t be so bad, Korra.” He tries to sooth her, but she’s adamant.

 

“You don’t know that,” She crosses her arms over her chest, stretching her legs as they lightly touch his.

 

“Yes, I do know.” He sighed.

 

“What if I get mauled by a bear or I get stung by a hive of bees? Or I get picked on by the ‘popular girl’? Or people hate me?” Her eyes widen, feigning fright. Just the thought of it gives her chills, but she laughs it off, playing it cool. She doesn’t want him to know that she’s actually serious, yet. The latter she means.

 

“That’s ridiculous, Korra. You’re just overthinking this,” He laughs as she glares at him, the venom in it stripped away by the smile slowly curving her lips. “Trust me when I say I know, I was in your place before.” He finishes his food, sitting back in his chair and regards her inquisitively.

 

“You were an orphan?” The smile disappears and her ears perk up like a puppy.

 

“No, just… complicated family issues.” He sighs, a smile in place. The smile didn't reach his eyes and the way he said it turned the playful atmosphere to something serious almost immediately. The sigh she heard held a great deal of depth behind it and, although she did not want to trigger anything within him, she was curious. She wonders if it is worth asking.

 

“You know,” she says slowly, gently. “We’re technically family now, soooooo care to tell me more?” She smiled sheepishly, already knowing the result nonetheless.

 

“Maybe some other time.” He says with all seriousness.

 

Great. She knew it would turn out that way, but she still hoped he would tell her. It was a good day so far, a great evening since she was served her favorite food, unintentionally. Until she had to open her big mouth. She should’ve known something happened to him in the past, everyone has a past that they wouldn’t want to talk about.

 

Both of them don’t say a word. It’s quiet and the silence makes her muscles tense, especially with the way he practically glares at the empty bowl in front of him. That is, until Korra sips at her water and his eyes trail to the sparkling liquid.

 

She knows she shouldn’t say anything more, but she understands the feeling of being alone, being hurt, being angry. Abruptly, Korra realizes that she’s looking at him the way people do to her. Instead of sitting around in the foreboding silence, she stands from her seat and grabs ahold of the bowls and utensils in both hands, clearing her throat in the process.

 

“The thing you said earlier,” She breathed reluctantly. His gaze locks with hers in an intensity that was not there before. Although it does not hold the anger she thought he would feel, she can’t place her finger on the intense look in his eye. “That I could talk to you if I ever need to, that doesn’t just apply to me. It goes both ways, if you ever do want to talk, that is.” She says softly.

 

Not waiting for his response, she turns her back to him as she places the bowls into the sink, running hot water over them. The piercing gaze she senses towards her head makes a red flush color her cheeks as she washes the dishes. Whether it is from vexation or wonderment or something else entirely, Korra does not know. Some part of her doesn’t want to know.

 


 

 

Later that night, Korra retired to her chambers, lying in bed with the covers thrown about. It’s too hot for the covers and she’s tempted to take off her shirt and shorts, but she doesn’t know if Tarrlok will walk in. He seems like the type, anyway. But the way his mood shifted she wonders if he’ll keep the distance he created.

 

She feels stuffy, as though she’s suffocating. Huffing in irritation, she strips herself of the baggy shirt that twisted around her abdomen to let some air cool her heated body. It’s no use if it keeps strangling her, she reasons. She can’t sleep, the cicadas chirping loudly in the background numbs her mind.

 

The silence from dinner continued throughout the night and it made Korra uneasy. Not in a totally bad way, but she already had too many things on her mind that she did not want to start off with a bad temper or end up crying in front of him. It’s not that she doesn’t want to get close to him. It really is the opposite, the mood shifted so suddenly that she didn’t know how to approach the situation, not wanting him to mildly glare at her back when she’s not looking. That is, until he takes her up on her offer.

 

Korra dealt with kids with similar issues, but they are kids. Tarrlok is a grown man. A man capable of handling his own problems, and she did not want to impede on that.

 

But knowing that he has family issues, somewhat calms her nerves. When she says it aloud, it really does sound horrible. Horrible that she’s comforted by the thought of him having a tragic past, just like hers, whatever it may be. But it does anyway.

 

Korra turned with another huff. This isn’t abnormal for her. Not being able to sleep, that is. Although her mind reels at the new atmosphere - the new surroundings, the new materialistic trinkets decorating her room, her new father - she feels like a stranger in an even stranger home. It does not mask her own past and how much she wants to take it all back.

 

Tears begin to well up in her eyes, threatening to spill.

 

She missed her parents. Her real ones. Senna and Tonraq.

 

She missed the way they both made her laugh. Missed the way she could easily fall asleep in their laps and they’d carry her to her bed, tucking her in securely. She missed the mirth on their faces when she did something funny. Or the warmth she felt when they said, We love you . The way it happened all of a sudden, it shouldn’t have happened. It wouldn’t have happened if she did not insist on going with them. If she wasn’t such a brat and headstrong, like she still is now, they would still be alive. She hated herself for it.

 

Every night when the sun fell and the moon rose, it’s all the same. Whether she’s lying in her lumpy bed at the orphanage or in this new plush one at Tarrlok’s grandiose mansion, it does not change.

 

The caretakers would always whisper and complain behind her back, thinking she was asleep, that she’s a crybaby. That she barely eats her food, picking at the undercooked pieces of meat in hidden disgust. That she was a stubborn brat, wanting to lay in bed for hours rather than go out and have a social life like the other kids. She hated the feeling of being a disappointment, of being unwanted, being thought of as something that takes up space. A lifeless lump on an even lumpier bed.

 

She just wanted them back. The warm tears fall in thin streaks without her permission. Korra sniffles, staring at the refilled bottle of pills at her bedside table.

 

Even if she took them, the feeling will only return the next night. What use is it if she’s still going to feel the pain, if she’s still going to disassociate. Closing her eyes, Korra willed herself to go to sleep. Focusing on her breathing, she takes long, deep intakes of air. The sound of cicadas continuously chirping echo in her ears. Eventually the tears stop and she finally succumbs to the darkness of slumber.

Chapter Text

The days leading up to Wednesday were similar to that of her first day in her new home. Decent. Friendly banter here and there, getting to know each other, until the moon shone high in the dark sky and the tears would eventually exhaust her shaking body enough to fall asleep.

 

The first morning she woke up in her new home was strange. Strange that it was abnormally quiet rather than hearing little kids screaming as they played tag. Strange that she smelt delicious food and recently brewed coffee wafting through the air vents rather than poorly cooked porridge. Strange that her body did not ache from the tears and the jagged mattress that she slept on.

 

That first morning she notices the covers were neatly strown over her body rather than the mess she made of it the night before. She doesn’t know why, but her mind slows to a crawl. The realization that she is still topless does not register quickly. When it does, Korra’s eyes widen and frantically glance at the door, only to find it left slightly ajar.

 

Did Tarrlok see her naked chest? Or was she faced away from him just enough so he wouldn’t see? She hoped it was the latter, not wanting to deal with that awkward situation. With a turn of her head, she realized a glass of water sat next to the bottle of pills that was definitely not there last night.

 

As well as a note.

 

Propping herself on an elbow, she reached for the piece of paper and read Tarrlok’s pretty penmanship.

 

Korra,

 

I’ll be gone for work until noon and since you’ve never been to Republic City, after work I was planning on taking you to some places. I made some pancakes and bacon for you, as I presumed that you’ll sleep in, they’re on the counter waiting for you. Also, there’s enough coffee left in the pot for you and if you’re not fond of coffee, there’s a selection of teas in the cabinet. If there’s ever an emergency in the time that I’m gone, the number is on the refrigerator, as well as mine. Don’t get too bored without me.

 

With love, Tarrlok.

 

Even if he wasn’t there physically, Korra could easily hear the smugness in his voice, could picture the half lidded gaze and the smirk lining his mouth in jest. Reaching for her loose shirt, she throws it over her head, quickly tying her tangled strands in a disheveled ponytail.

 

Throwing the sheets off her body, Korra’s gaze travels back to the paper.

 

She never had anyone leave a note to her. It was an odd feeling. It was also odd with the major turn of moods with the man. Korra was used to being independent, used to being left on her own, which in a sense is not very different now. But the distinction from the orphanage to this lonesome mansion is that the people in it, even if it is just Tarrlok, actually cared for her. Warmth filled her chest. Warmth that she hasn’t felt in a long time.

 

So far, each morning was like this. Well, except the piece of paper with his pleasant, slanted writing daintily sitting on her nightstand.

 

It has only been a handful of days living with the man, but she works out a morning routine on days she won’t necessarily have to leave the house, mentally checking the list off as each hour passes. It’s a simple schedule, really, especially when boredom struck and she discovered a huge garden open to the public just a mere walk from his mansion.

 

Her schedule was as followed: wake up with dried tears staining her cheeks, eat breakfast that Tarrlok expertly cooks, pester the man until she spots the twitch in his brow in irritation - if he was home, that is - go on a jog around the garden with music blaring in her ears, return to the house and work out until her muscles burn, sure to be sore the next day.

 

It was the day before school began and she just finished her jog around the area, settling in the Tarrlok’s own vibrant garden that the man himself tried to pry her out of.

 

She remembered rolling her eyes at the man, something about destroying his precious flowers and disrupting the peace he specifically created and what not. No matter what he said, she did not listen. It had the perfect amount of shade and the fresh air helped her focus. Remembering that she tuned him out, she proceeded to the garden anyways, leaving him to sputter, to scold her, although it didn’t work.

 

Korra let out a yawn and stretched out on the grass beneath her. A small break wouldn’t hurt before her workout, she reasoned.

 

Like the recent nearly-end-of-summer days in Republic City, it’s hot and humid. The sun’s rays shine down through the leaves on the trees, warming her exposed skin with perspiration. She wears a black sports bra, the stretchy material making the valley between her breasts even more pronounced than it usually is, and leggings that cling to her like second skin.

 

Closing her eyes, Korra could feel the beads of sweat at her temples dripping down into her hair. Stray strands stuck to her forehead uncomfortably as she focused on controlling her breathing. Focused on the steady beats of music.

 

Her body was just beginning to relax into a pile of goo when she felt something tickling her cheeks. Cracking an eye open she realizes it’s Tarrlok. He’s crouched, elbows resting on his knees and a manila folder grasped in one hand, hair falling out of the tie, looking down at her expectantly. She’s tempted to push his buttons by closing her eye and ignoring him, but she’ll be a good girl. For now.

 

Pulling an earbud out with a flick of her wrist, Korra matches his amused gaze and said, “You’re home early,” she smiled politely. “You didn’t drive all the way from City Hall just to check up on me, did you?” Her voice dripped with saccharine.

 

“Yes, because a teenage girl needs constant monitoring, right?” He plays along.

 

“Duh! I’m hot piece of ass and perverts litter the city, clearly they’d come after me. Or, you know, you just can’t stand the idea of leaving someone as amazing and awesome as me home alone.” Shrugging, Korra let the smile extend further smugly.

 

He decidedly ignores her first statement, not wanting to dig himself a deeper hole than he already had. “Undoubtedly, that must be it,” he deadpans. Korra likes it when he acts this way. When he’s playful and teasing, and dare-she-say fun. It’s a shocker, a politician actually knowing what fun is other than signing papers and going to council meetings. Truly a party animal. But she has only started living in his home for a little more than a few days and she’s fascinated by him. For all she knows, he secretly or not-so-secretly might be a wet blanket. She can’t decide just yet.

 

Letting out a giggle, Korra swiped at the hair tickling her skin. “Seriously, what’re you doing here?” She asks curiously.

 

“Well I forgot some files that I’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks,” he lifts his large hand, shaking the thick folder in proof.

 

“Ah, makes sense,” she says, smoothly taking the other earbud out, pulling the cord free from her phone.

 

“You’re not overexerting yourself, are you?” He questioned. Observing the way her sweaty body laid almost lifeless on the green grass. A single finger of his drops down to lazily brush the damp strands away from her face. It’s featherlight, and it reminds Korra of her real dad. Memories flashed back to the times Tonraq would do the exact loving gesture to her younger self.

 

She stopped herself before the memory made tears well up in her eyes by answering him.

 

“No,” she said simply, hoping her voice did not betray her by the weight she felt pressing on her chest.

 

“Good, I don’t want you to hurt yourself.” His eyes roved all over her face. The hand brushing the stray locks pulled back and he clears his throat. “Well, the city needs saving,” He prompted, but not making the move to get up.

 

“Right, sorry that I kept you from tending to your precious papers, Councilman .” At that, she smirked triumphantly, knowing he hates it when she calls him by his title. Abruptly, he stood up and glared at her lifeless body as he towered over her.

 

“How many times do I have to tell you that I’m a politician ? Not a mere Councilman.” He hissed, propping his hands on his hips in clear disgust.

 

“Hmm, not sure.” Korra shrugged indifferently. “Tell me again, what’s the difference between the two?”

 

“I don’t have time for explaining such inane issues right now,” He sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose as he felt an oncoming headache begin to form. She had to bite her lip to stifle an inappropriate giggle that would inevitably escape if he kept making that face. “In any case, I’ll presume that you’ll do what you do and I’ll see you before dinner.” He grumbled, already walking away from her in irritability.

 

“Got it, bye, Councilman.” Her voice unable to hide her amusement and tosses a hand in the air, wiggling her fingers as she hears grumbling and his footsteps retreat back into the house, closing the door behind him.

 

Alone again, Korra grasps her phone, searching for another song to play. She needed something to distract her from the sudden onset of emotions that he unintentionally brought out. The last time she felt the need to cry in broad daylight was nearly five years ago. There’s no need to bring such problems out in the open again.

 

Choosing one with a fast beat, she takes a deep breath and pulls herself up to start stretching sore muscles from the day before in preparation for her workout.

 


 

 

“Korra, wake up.”

 

She heard his soothing voice cut through her slumber. When she made no move to get up, Tarrlok shook her shoulders, slightly scrunching his face at realizing the fabric felt rough against his hand. She felt it, but it did not register in her mind, sleep still clinging to her. Still, Korra made no move. But then the pad of his fingers gently wiped at the dried tears staining her cheeks.

 

Korra rolled over and cracked open an eye. He was crouched to her level, watching her with the tiniest of smirks as his large hand cupped her cheek tenderly.

 

“Get up, it’s almost seven,” he says quietly, standing up to move from her room.

 

Korra let out an irritated groan at realizing she was awake so soon. There really was no reason for her to go other than the fact that it was school. She could play pretend, be sick for the day, and hopefully Tarrlok wouldn’t mind. Even if he’s a grouchy old man now, he was a teenager once, right?

 

But right before he passes the threshold, he turns around and gives her a how-stupid-do-you-think-I-am look without saying a word. He really might be a wizard in disguise with the way he can read her easily.

 

Blindly getting out of bed, Korra stumbles to the bathroom. It’s too early for this. Too early to go to school. Why would someone be so cruel to make school start at eight in the morning anyway? She washes her face with the cold water, grasping at the porcelain and groans as she’s already dreading the day ahead of her. No doubt the day will be filled with dull ice breakers, awkward first meetings, and sitting alone at lunch. It’s the same every year, even without having to move schools.

 

Yanking out the tangles in her hair, Korra looks through the closet stuffed with new clothes Tarrlok bought her.

 

She remembered the day before. It was almost time for dinner when he returned home from work. Tarrlok wondered if she wanted to eat out this time around and although she would rather stay in the house, she agreed.

 

They ate at a small restaurant, a quirky sushi and ramen rotary that Tarrlok apparently frequented on late nights in City Hall. It had a pinkish tinge throughout the establishment and it was more technologically advanced than what Korra has ever seen for a rotary.

 

People sat scattered around the restaurant. It was nice and fast-paced yet cozy. The food was amazing, despite the skeptical glance she gave the raw slices of fish on Tarrlok’s dish. He must have noticed because he offered her a piece from his chopsticks, immediately favoring her own bowl of hot ramen over his dish of sashimi.

 

Afterwards, they walked off their full stomachs, him guiding her to a popular store near the restaurant that he knew many women shopped at, they covered the numerous floors easily. No doubt was it awkward at first, she‘s never went shopping with only a man at her side before, but she did not think too much into it. Tarrlok’s supposed to be her father figure, after all, even though it still does not feel right to call him her dad. He just wants to bond with her. That’s it, familial bonding.

 

Although she was reluctant to look through the nice apparel, he insisted on spoiling her, saying she needed new clothes anyway. Slightly offended, Korra looked down at her shirt and immediately understood what he meant. Few holes sported the cloth around her abdomen and she smiled sheepishly.

 

The two spent an hour, more like two, sorting through different styles of clothes, him holding the growing pile of fabric and her calmly adding it to the heap.

 

It wasn’t until they reached the corner of women’s undergarments that she sensed his mild discomfort. She continued on, the tiniest of smiles forming on her lips, looking through the different pieces of fabric. Ranging from comfortable cotton to sensual lace, Korra held two panties in indecisiveness. She couldn’t decide whether to lean towards comfort or for sexiness.

 

Almost always she would lean towards comfort over sexiness, but noticing the women on the posters and the mannequins, they sported alluring lace or provocative harnesses. It’s not what she would typically wear, but she mentally said fuck it.

 

Shrugging, Korra tossed both the underwear to the pile and searched for the matching bras. Tarrlok follows without a complaint. A girl can look hot even if there was no one to show it to, she reasons.

 

Even as they stood side by side in line, waiting to pay for the numerous articles of clothing in her arms, she felt guilty. Guilty, that he was paying for a pile of clothes just for her sake. Guilty, with a hint of elation that someone is spoiling her rotten. It’s not the relationship she had in mind when a man would buy her anything she wanted, but it still gets her heart rate to pound just a little faster nonetheless.

 

Not realizing they were next in line, Tarrlok’s hand lightly guided her forward by the small of her back. He offered a polite smile to the cashier as Korra placed the pile of clothes onto the counter.

 

Polite, that is, until the cashier glanced at the lacey underwear and matching bra, then between the two of them repeatedly in obvious disapproval.

 

Korra scrunched her nose as Tarrlok’s body tensed beside her, only to conveniently stop the uncomfortable situation and reach for his wallet, quickly muttering a lie for her ring them up since he had an ‘important meeting’ to get to. The cashier rolled her eyes exaggeratedly, sweeping through the pile for him to speedily swipe a piece of plastic through the card reader.

 

They didn’t say anything about it as they exited the store, two bags in hand. Silently acknowledging that they both never wanted to bring it up in conversation.

 

Reaching for the clothes, she quickly changed into the new fabric. It’s soft against her skin. Korra steps in front of the mirror, vivid blue eyes roving over her form. Black, sleeveless turtleneck that ended mid abdomen, and loose, light blue high-waisted jeans with a black leather belt cinched around her waist. She nods at her reflection in approval and thinks of something to do with her loose hair. Ponytail or bun?

 

Bunching the soft strands in one hand she deftly ties her hair into a messy bun. She looks at herself again. Good enough.

 

Korra makes her way down the marble stairs to the kitchen, grabbing a bowl and a spoon as Tarrlok pours himself a cup of coffee. He wears of his usual loosely tied hair, a crisp, white button up tucked into black dress pants and a deep navy tie perfectly knotted around his neck.

 

“You’re up early,” he says, the smile evident in his voice as he sips at his hot drink.

 

“Gee, I wonder why.” She deadpans, pouring cereal into the bowl before adding the milk. Tarrlok laughs. She can smell the slightest scent of cigarette smoke lingering on his clothes as she passes him. He rubs a gentle hand on her shoulder as she situates herself at the stool in front of him.

 

“Like I said before, you’ll be fine,” he tries to reassure her.

 

“Sure,” she mumbles over a mouthful of cereal.

 

“I see you are wearing your new clothes,” he says blandly. She freezes, her eyes trail from her cereal, up his chest to meet his pale blue irises.

 

“Yeah, what of it?” She asks curiously.

 

“Just an observation,” he eyes the messy bun sitting on top of her head and the stray tendrils framing her face. “It looks good on you.”

 

“Thanks, creep.” She mutters impassively. Though she doesn’t want to admit it, only because he’ll smirk like a smug bastard, she does agree with him.

 

“By creep you mean the most amazing dad,” Yet he smirks anyway, the teasing glint in his eyes.

 

“No, I meant creep.” She says bluntly.

 

“You have quite a sharp tongue for a mere teenager,” He feigns vexation, glaring at her over his mug, but the venom is not there. He sips at his black coffee as she laughs in mirth, mouth open with bits of chewed cereal occupying her palate. Slightly recoiling, Tarrlok shakes his head as a chuckle leaves him. What did he get himself into?

 


 

The warmth and humidity held for most of the morning. No doubt worsening throughout the day. She was beginning to regret wearing jeans rather than shorts, but shrugged it off. She’d rather have that over sweaty thighs chafing together.

 

This school was huge. Huge for a high school in the city. Slowly walking up the concrete stairs to the main building, Korra scans the surrounding area. Teenagers around her age, loud and boisterous, talking to one another as they meet with their friends.

 

Korra had been more and more awed with every passing person. The people around her look so collected. So fashionable. So cohesive as cliques gather together and slowly trickle into the building. She felt lost, though. Appearing as if she were a kid looking for their parent in an amusement park. Happy faces were everywhere. She’s never seen this many people beaming at school. Although, she had an inkling that it had to do with it being the first day of a new school year.

 

Reluctantly, Korra enters the building before the crowd of different cliques cram into the hallways, clutching at the piece of paper Tarrlok gave her. Better to get it over with than dread it further.

 

She glances down at the paper, reading her schedule. Her tense shoulders visibly relax. The letters that formed those words - blocked scheduling, that is - made her feel better, but she still couldn’t help feel overwhelmed by it all. Her old school had block periods and she at least is familiar with something despite the new faces and the new school.

 

Mindlessly wandering the hallway, she mentally repeats her first class. UR Government, room 201, eight to ten, Mr. Tenzin.

 

Passing by the consecutive numbering of rooms, Korra walks with long strides, the thudding of her black leather shoes apparent against the tiles. Mentally reading the signs, she spots the room ahead of her, but suddenly someone rammed into her side. Before she can think of a brash comment the guy continues to walk.

 

“Watch where you’re going, new meat.” He said blandly, barely giving her a glance from the side of his eye.

 

The group around him chuckled, a few guys and a few girls all wearing black. She ventured to guess they loved the color black. He was taller than her, jet black hair falling into his eyes and pale skin, white as snow, but whitish grey eyes that pierced right through her.

 

The pale irises intimidate Korra, similar to Tarrlok’s, but not as pleasant as her new father’s.

 

“Why don’t you watch where you’re going, dick.” She raised her voice, but they were already immersed within the crowd of cliques behind her.

 

Shaking her head and grasping the straps of her backpack, she grumbled to herself and reluctantly entered the room, closing the door with a huff. People were scattered throughout the classroom, some perching themselves on the tables or occupying the floor all the while talking to friends.

 

Korra took one of the empty seats in the back, plopping her things onto the desk and sat with a huff. Stupid pretty boy and his stupid-ass hair.

 

“Rough start?” A soft voice was heard next to her.

 

Korra’s eyes followed the voice and wow was she attractive. Her blue eyes widened a fraction at the girl sipping at iced coffee in a plastic cup. She had gorgeous black, wavy hair, pale skin, luminous viridian eyes that held a hint of sultriness, sharp winged eyeliner and a dark wine stain to her pouty lips. She sported the same dark choice in wardrobe as the group she saw earlier - a black, v-neck tank top tucked into form fitting raven, high-waisted jeans with the similar black shoes she wore, although the girl’s next to her were a little more worn in than Korra’s.

 

“Oh, um, y-yeah you could say that.” She stumbled over her words.

 

The girl with viridian eyes reminded Korra of those evil villains or wicked seductresses in movies. In short, the badass women.

 

“It’ll get easier, don’t worry,” The girl waved a dismissive hand. She took a sip of the coffee, swallowing the creamy drink before she realized it. “Wait, now that I think about it, I haven’t seen you around before. Are you new?”

 

“Yeah, I, uh, just moved here a couple days ago.” Korra said cautiously, a forced smile making it’s way to her lips.

 

“Oh, really? From where?” The girl looked genuinely interested, but Korra couldn’t decided whether or not to trust her. Of course she’d be cautious. It’s their first meeting. For all she knows, the raven-haired girl next to her could be a backstabber and use whatever she said against her.

 

Even if she was sincerely intrigued, Korra didn’t want to chase her off on the first day with the implications that it could bring, saying ‘oh yeah, I’m from an orphanage a couple hours away from here and a handsome, single man adopted me’.

 

“Ummm,” She hummed, her mind frantically conjuring up a backstory for the real Korra. Feeling her cheeks heat, she hastily ran through the first thing that came into her head. “You know, just a small town a couple hours away from here.” She half lied. She did come from a small city a few hours toward the mountains.

 

“That sounds quaint,” The girl smiled, but sighed a few seconds later as she realized her mistake. “Sorry, where are my manners? I’m Asami.” She offered a slender hand for Korra to shake.

 

“Korra,” She replied, slightly shaking her hand.

 

“Well, Korra, if you need help with anything don’t hesitate to ask.” Asami said with a friendly smile. She’s a little surprised at the warm welcome.

 

Maybe Tarrlok was right. Maybe it will be fine after all.

 

“Thanks, I think I’ll take you up on that offer.” Both girls chuckled.

 

“So, how’re you liking Republic City?” She said curiously, taking a gulp of her coffee.

 

“It’s a bit overwhelming, but I like it, I think city life suits me,” Korra nodded truthfully. “Tarrl- erm my dad took me around to some of the shops yesterday. They’re really nice.” She spoke up.

 

“Oh your father lived here before?” Her head cocked to the side in wonder.

 

“Well he used to travel around a lot for work so he kinda knows some good places.” It’s not a total lie. Tarrlok did go on business trips to meet other officials, at least that’s what Korra assumed he did.

 

“Ah, I see. My father’s a pilot so I understand.” She offered, but then perked up, sitting a tad bit straighter. “I have an idea, why don’t we go shopping together?” Asami mused with a smile, showing straight, white teeth.

 

“Really? You want to?” She said genuinely surprised. Korra doesn’t think she is that special. Of course she had friends at her old school, but she usually kept them at arm's length because she did not want to get hurt or them to get hurt, only making her blame herself for it.

 

But she thinks about it. Now that she has a new life, a new reputation, she has another chance to do something different with it.

 

“Yeah, why not? I’ll show you some really cool places to shop at and give you some amazing discounts. And if you really want to, I can take you to some of the hidden gems around the city.” Asami said matter of factly, shrugging a shoulder.

 

“That’d be awesome, I’d totally love to. I mean, I need all the help I can with this stuff.” She giggled.

 

“Oh don’t worry, I’ll help you.” The raven haired girl said dismissively.

 

Just then the door at the front of the classroom opened. A tall, bald man with a pointed beard emerged, a satchel and folder clutched in hand. He looked strict by the way his face rested, a frown etching itself on his mouth. Maybe it’s just the beard. He was dressed in a red and gold sweater vest, black dress pants, and matching pointed shoes.

 

The man she figured was their government teacher ruffled through the satchel. As he pulled out a laptop and a pile of papers from the folder, the blaring bell was heard from the speakers throughout the campus, signaling the beginning of first period. The people scattered from the floor and desks took their respective seats. He gave the pile of papers to a student in the front, passing them out for everyone in the room as he set the cords and laptop to the projector.

 

Sorting through some files, he pulled up one with something that looked similar to the paper being passed around and cleared his throat.

 

“Okay class, I’m Mr. Tenzin and I’ll be your teacher for this year. As you have seen in your schedules, I teach United Republic Government and Economy,” Korra tunes out the rest as it generally is the same nonsense. We’ll be in the same class for the year so don’t piss me off, follow my rules, don’t line up at the door a few minutes before the bell rings, yada yada yada.

 

All the same just different settings.

 

Time with the bald man pass relatively slow. It was a struggle to keep her heavy lids from fully closing from the monotony. To keep from falling asleep, Korra doodled on the piece of paper, drawing random squiggles and stick figures. The man’s voice was deep and calming as he went over the syllabus.

 

Her eyes kept shifting to glance at the clock on the wall opposite of her, behind his shiny head. Only an hour left. She broke it down further. Only thirty minutes twice, twenty minutes three times, and ten minutes six times.

 

Just as her butt was going numb, Korra thanked the spirits above when he decided to end the class early. She guessed he would’ve continued, but apparently there was a pep rally the whole campus was required to go to.

 

Fantastic.

 

—-

 

Korra and Asami walked together through the hallways, the whole campus being guided to the auditorium. Chatter and the sound of footsteps reverberated in the halls of metal lockers. As much as she was tempted to make a run for the exit, she knew Asami would pull her back, not wanting to be left alone throughout the pep rally.

 

And here they were, the two girls strode in unison and Korra made note of their matching shoes.

 

“Hey, are we wearing the same shoes?” Korra asked.

 

“Huh?” Asami replied, a confused look on her face. Until she glanced down and saw the same black, leather, three eyelets crossing the top of the shoe covering Korra’s feet. “Oh, well what do you know, we are,” she giggles and suddenly she remembers something, placing a gentle hand on Korra’s elbow, saying, “I didn’t get to say this earlier, but you have really gorgeous eyes.”

 

“Really?” Korra said, taken aback. Well that sure was random, she noted.

 

“You sound surprised,” The raven-haired girl observed.

 

“Not a lot of people say that, I guess. I mean, it’s just blue eyes.” She dismissed with a shrug.

 

“Korra, take the damn compliment,” Asami teased. “Plus, blue eyes intrigue me,” She said with a small shrug.

 

“Well, buddy, if you like blue eyes, you should see my dad’s. His are a pale blue, it’s kinda creepy now that I think about it,” She recalled Tarrlok’s pale blue depths. Recalled his mirthful gaze when she pestered him or the unreadable look in his eyes when she helps him cook. An indecipherable shiver ran down her spine. What the hell was that about?

 

“Why would it be creepy?” Asami spoke up as the voices around them grew in volume.

 

“I don’t know, he’s not really my-“ Korra stopped abruptly, catching sight of the group clad in black walking the opposite of everyone in the hallway. “Hey, do you know who that guy is?” She asked, gesturing with a nod of her head to the one in the center of the group.

 

“Oh, that’s Tahno. He’s a senior like us, one of the guys in water polo, and looooooves creepy stuff. Don't get intimidated by him or his group. He likes to scare people, that’s sort of his thing, but he’s like a bunny if you go after him.” Asami said dismissively.

 

“Huh,” She wasn’t expecting that. It was the opposite of what she perceived with the pale guy.

 

Loud music met their ears as they entered the auditorium. Balloons and brightly colored tissue paper decorated the railings of the stairs, and the mascot, a bison, danced excitedly in the middle of the court. Asami grabbed her wrist, practically dragging her through the crowd as they searched for seats in the section designated for the seniors.

 

“Why do you ask?” Curiosity swam in her viridian eyes as she looked over her shoulder to Korra.

 

“No reason,” she said hastily, taking a seat in the middle of the bleachers. The cold metal under her cooled her skin through the jeans. Even if the room had a muggy hint.

 

But then Korra takes note of the way a slow smirk grew on her beautiful features and the way she leaned closer. She did not like it where this was going.

 

“You like him, don’t you?” She whispered.

 

If she had been drinking she would have spat the liquid on the poor sap who decided to sit in front of her. What in seven hells made her think she liked him?

 

“Hell no!” Korra snapped, evidently repulsed.

 

“You seem a little defensive there, Korra.” Asami says in amusement.

 

“Hell nooooooo,” she repeated, eyes wide.

 

“Why not? He’s pretty attractive.” Asami said coolly.

 

“He’s not my type,” Korra adds, shaking her head fervently.

 

“What’s your type then?” Asami could not help the confident grin from forming on her face. This must be so funny to her.

 

“Definitely not him,” She says with a laugh, trying to evade the question by simply watching the crowd taking their seats and the leadership students testing out the speakers and microphones. So very interesting.

 

“Come on, Korra, indulge me. I haven’t had girl talk with anyone all summer,” Hopeful eyes glanced at Korra.

 

“Fine, fine. I honestly don’t know though,”she shrugged. “I’ve really only had a crush on someone once and that was barely anything.”

 

“Okay, that’s a start,” Asami said in her gentle voice, egging her on.

 

“Hmmm,” Korra hummed, thinking back to her old school. It really has been a while since she was fond of someone. She remembered Howl. He was a senior when she was a freshman. It wasn’t going to happen, Korra acknowledged that, had come to terms with it. But he was pretty to look at, there was nothing wrong with that. “Well, he had really nice face and muscles… Oh, and he was funny. So, that maybe.”

 

“That could be really any guy, Korra,” Asami laughed, a delicate hand covering her mouth.

 

Korra was about to respond, but then the lights cut out and the music stopped playing. Of course there were those who screamed, and those who had to endure the high-pitched shrieks. Was this normal for every school?

 

A single spot light was projected in the center of the auditorium, towards a pair with microphones grasped in their hands. This school fancied the flare for the dramatic.

 

The pair spoke into the mics. Loud, peppy voices rung throughout the auditorium, speaking of the excitement of starting a new academic year. The two switched back and forth, their charged voices explaining the extracurriculars that the school offered. From after-school clubs to sports and the arts, they covered everything.

 

Belatedly, Korra realized the rally was all about signing up for these school activities.

 

Her gaze drifted off to the single spotlight on the second floor, staring at the beam and feeling a burning sensation in her eyes. That is, until a group of students ran to the center of the spotlight. People in the crowd screamed for the team, or for their friends. Korra wasn’t sure. She was mildly interested, watching as they formed a line and a video played onto the box above them. It showcased what she assumed was the team of some sport. Softball.

 

Not her cup of tea.

 

This school really did love the dramatic, making the sport so much more astounding than it really is. Booming music was played along with the video as it showed different team members hit the ball.

 

Once the video was done, the women in a line warmly spoke of wanting new people on the team. They spoke confidently that they’d win this year’s annual competition for finals, and soon the screams for the team pierced her eardrums once more. They retreated back to the sidelines of the court, the pair coming back to the center, only to introduce the dance team. A large group of women, and a few men sprinkled in, emerged from the shadows. All wore relatively the same outfit in small variations in their class colors. Instead of a video, they settled into their positions and prepared a performance for the rally.

 

Loud music blared once again. It began with a slow tempo, something similar to that of rhythm and blues songs. Korra watched as each person in the team moved in synch, matching each other’s movements by hitting every beat of the song.

 

The team danced sensually at first, but soon enough the music tapped in a few more beats before some of the top hits mashed into one song. It was overly excitable and Korra hated how much the music clashed. Sure they really did know how to dance, but with this music, Korra tried not to cringe.

 

Noticing Asami doing exactly the same thing from the corner of her eye, Korra allowed herself to relax as she acknowledges she is not the only one who has the same opinion.

 

Each step, each beat was matched perfectly with pointed toes as they darted through the practiced dance. From twirling and jumping into the air to sexual floor work, they moved in synchrony.

 

Once the dance was done, the massive group retreated back to the sidelines, just as the softball team.

 

It was the same. The excitable pair would introduce a sport, they would display a video showcasing said sport, then either the hip hop team or the cheer squad would perform.

 

Korra watched disinterestedly. That is, until the volleyball team came out.

 

Asami watched her from the corner of her viridian eyes, watching as she leaned just the slightest bit forward, her blue eyes beaming in interest in the dark auditorium. She was restless, shifting her legs repeatedly as she sat at the edge of her seat.

 

“Why don’t you try out for them?” Asami said in amusement.

 

“Huh?” Reluctantly breaking her gaze away from the video, Korra smiled in question.

 

“Tryouts. You. Volleyball.” She elaborated. “Korra, you’re clearly interested,” Asami giggled.

 

“That obvious…?” Korra mumbled, a timid smile curving her lips as she scratched the back of her neck. Her eye trailing back to the video, only to return her gaze to the black-haired beauty next to her. A knowing smirk crossing her dark lips as the music vibrated through the auditorium.

 

“No, I just thought you needed to take a shit.” Asami deadpanned and Korra laughed. “Did you play volleyball in your old school?” She asked inquisitively.

 

“Yeah, I was in varsity.” Korra supplied, a proud grin lining her plump lips.

 

“Why don’t you try out then?” The incredulous look on her face made Korra snicker. “I’m serious, the school needs all the help they can get, we’re not exactly known for volleyball.” Asami encouraged as someone nudged their knee into her back. Her brows furrow the slightest bit, but shrugged it off.

 

“Fine, I’ll try out,” she paused for dramatic effect, the smile turning more mischievous. “But only if you try out with me.”

 

“I would love to, but sports really isn’t my forte.”

 

“Oh,” Korra brushed off, acting as if nothing was wrong. But the look on her face said otherwise. She finally met someone that she thinks genuinely likes her, and she doesn’t like sports. Not that it was a problem, it just seemed as though she was interested in the topic

 

Just then she heard a loud laugh coming from the green eyed girl next to her.

 

“Don’t look so sad, I’ll go with you and watch if you want,” She giggled.

 

“Oh thank you! You’re amazing,”

 

“I am pretty amazing,” Asami flipped her luscious locks off her shoulder, looking self assured with a gorgeous smile lining her lips. Korra locked eyes with her, slightly confused as a serious expression presents itself on her face. That is, until Asami let out a bark of laughter at the blue eyed girl’s derpy face. “I’m joking.” She said through gasps for air.

 

Korra joined the raven haired girl, chuckling with her. At least she got someone laughing.

 

Bright lights abruptly turned on and the original pair introducing the sports and whatnot returned to the center of attention. The two spoke with exaggeration, directing the students in the auditorium to either ‘proceed to your next class’ or ‘enjoy their finest food’. Korra’s brows rose, seriously doubting any food from school could be called ‘finest food’ as they claimed. Their acting skills were far below par at best.

 

Rolling her eyes, Korra’s attention went back to the raven haired girl next to her.

 

“You’re not in anything? No clubs or whatever?” Korra asked as the pair stood up to wander down the creaky stairs.

 

“I’m in the fashion club. And they don’t offer it here, which is a shame, but my dad teaches me self defense.” She supplied as they walked the crowded perimeter of the court.

 

“That sounds cool,” She has always wanted to learn, but no one wanted to teach her. Whether it was because her prominent muscles proved she is more than strong enough to defend herself, or it was because she is stubborn enough that teaching her will inevitably give her mentor an aneurysm, whomever it may be, either way it is beyond Korra. But then she remembered what her partner said before class started. “...Wait, isn’t he gone all the time, though? I thought he’s a pilot?” Korra recalled.

 

“He is, but… you know, life happens. He wanted me to learn to defend myself if ever there’s a time that he’s not there to protect me.” Asami says, just loud enough for Korra to hear over the excited crowd of high schoolers, all trying to exit the building at the same time.

 

“... He sounds like a wonderful dad,” She says in mild jealousy. Korra remembered when her dad wrestled with her younger self. He would always let her win, of course, but the purity and simplicity in it made Korra want to go back in time.

 

Asami’s gentle voice broke her from thoughts of the past.

 

“He is.” She sighed, fingering the gold lock on her bag with shaky hands, appearing as though she were lost in reflection, just as Korra was a few moments ago. With a slight shake of her head, Asami straightened her back and took a deep breath in. “So what does your dad do?” She said, trying to shift the attention towards the blue-eyed girl next to her.

 

“Ummm… he’s a politician.” Korra said hesitantly, lightly biting her lower lip as the crowd slowly shuffled out.

 

“Really?” She sounded surprised, Korra duly noted.

 

Finally exiting the auditorium, the pair made a beeline for the volleyball booth.

 

“... Yeah?” She confirmed, her brows furrowing in confusion. Two women sat in fold up chairs, while another stood between the pair, a grin plastered on their faces as Korra came up to the table.

 

“Hiya! Are you interested in joining our volleyball team?” The one in the middle spoke in a cheery voice.

 

Korra nodded with a tiny smile, clearly not expecting such lively people at school. Most people at her old school dreaded attending class, even appearing as though they were zombies crawling out of their graves, what more signing up for extracurriculars. This school was the complete opposite of her previous one, more happy, more enthusiastic, despite the dipshit that bumped into her earlier that morning.

 

“Awesome!” One of the girls that sat in the fold up chairs sang in an off-tune, high-pitched song. “Just sign up for now, and tryouts will soon be announced, as well as a bunch of other information you’ll need to know.” The girl whispered from the small opening of her mouth.

 

“Cool,” Korra blurted.

 

Taking the pen in her hand, she writes her basic information on the piece of paper - name, number, grade, first class of the day and the room.

 

“So what’s his name? My dad works with a lot of politicians,” Korra stops in her writing and looks at her companion bewilderedly in a silent question. “I meant he usually takes politicians abroad, like for business meetings. That kind of stuff.” Asami elaborated.

 

“Oh, well his name is Tarrlok. He’s technically a councilman, but he always corrects me that he’s ‘a politician’.” Setting the pen down and moving away from the booth, Korra mimicked Tarrlok’s smooth voice with air quotes, barely registering the cheerful thanks for signing up! behind her. He always seemed annoyed by the fact that she calls him a councilman rather than politician. The bothered glint in his eye when he corrects her only proves that provoking him is more than fun.

 

“The name sounds familiar, but I can’t put a face to the name.” Asami said, tapping a finely painted fingertip to her chin.

 

“Tall, long-ass hair, blue eyes, always has this smirk on his face… anything?” She described the man, exaggerating it by copying his trademark leer.

 

“Hmm, nothing, I’m sorry. You’ll have to introduce me, though.” Asami said syly. The way her eyes glimmered with mischief made Korra uneasy. She hopes that the girl next to her did not have a kink for people’s dads. Not that it would be a problem, to each their own, but it is just very odd and strange and bizarre to imagine Tarrlok with that black-haired beauty. Her mind supplied an image of the viridian-eyed girl flirting with the man most likely hunched over a desk, signing papers in yet another monotonous day in city hall. Korra cringed, the grotesque picture vanishing as soon as it appeared. She reasons that he technically is not her father anyway, but it’d undoubtedly be strange.

 

Lost in the obscene image, Asami’s reply belatedly registered in her mind as she followed her.

 

“Wait, what? Why?” Korra said hastily.

 

“Because it’s polite and we’re friends,” She smiled, turning the corner of the building and into the parking lot.

 

“... We are?” Her steps slightly falter, almost tripping on a speed bump.

 

Glancing at Korra over her shoulder, she dramatically flipped her wavy hair. “Wow, I see how it is. I guess you’ll just have to find someone else to go with you to the tryouts.” Asami said with a weak bite, but no real venom was there. Pulling out silver keys, she stopped in front of a vintage black car.

 

“No! I’m sorry, I just…” Korra groaned. “I’m not used to this, it’s all kinda new to me.”

 

“I’m joking, Korra,” She smiled, opening the car door as she jiggled her keys enticingly from a finger. “And you’re forgiven, but since it’s our lunch break, wanna go out of campus and forgive each other with greasy noodles and milk tea?”

 

Just the thought made Korra’s stomach growl, but it must be a joke. She looked around cautiously. “We’re allowed to leave?”

 

“It’s school, not a prison,” Asami supplied, deftly lowering the roof of her car. “Seniors usually get to go out of campus. Don’t ask me why, it’s just how it’s been since I’ve been here.”

 

Hands on her shapely hips, Korra squinted at the girl moving to sit herself in the driver’s seat.

 

“First of all, I wasn’t opposed to noodles and milk tea, second of all, I wasn’t going to ask, and third of all-“

 

“-Korra, just get in the car!” Asami laughed as Korra grumbled to herself at being interrupted, but ultimately acquiesced, taking the passenger’s seat. She couldn’t get mad at Asami, not when the girl was nice enough to be her first friend… and not when food was waiting for her to slurp down.

 

“Greasy noodles and milk tea?” Her friend asked.

 

“Greasy noodles and milk tea.” She nodded in confirmation.

 

“Narook’s, it is then,” Asami smiled, starting the ignition with a jerk.

 

Chapter Text

The day went surprisingly well. It was a little past three in the afternoon, school was done for the day, and Korra stood near Asami who leaned against the railing of the stairs to the main building.

 

“You sure you don’t want a ride home? I don’t mind taking you,” Asami offered enticingly with a cock of her eyebrow.

 

“As sweet as the offer is, which is pretty damn sweet because I love your car, I can’t. My dad said he’ll pick me up,” Korra politely declined. Tarrlok said he wanted to hear about her day earlier that morning, and she really did not think she’d make any friends so she shrugged it off, half-heartedly acquiescing.

 

“Alright, if you say so.” She shrugs, stifling a yawn. “But just know that the offer stands if you need it.”

 

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Korra smiles.

 

The two wait in silence as the crowd trickles out. Korra’s tired. Tired from sitting in her class as each teacher of hers passed out a syllabus, saying generally the same thing. Despite the exhaustion, it was more eventful and more pleasing than her old school. For some reason, the grimy and dreary environment from the orphanage transferred to the school just a block away. It is the complete opposite for Republic City High. Maybe it’s because the school is in the city, that the people here are much more open and lively with one another. Maybe being in the city is a good thing for Korra. To get away from the dreariness, to get away from the constant reminder that she’s broken, that the only reason why she was kept in an orphanage was because of her own doing.

 

Her train of thought is interrupted when she hears two sets of footsteps and an intense voice coming their way.

 

“Asami!” The guy cried out, his pace quickening. He stood just a fraction taller than Korra, green eyes just a shade darker than the raven-haired beauty next to her, bulky muscles popping out of his colorful button up with flamingos printed on the fabric, and a friendly smile lining his lips. “Oh, hello miss,” the green-eyed guy says in an exaggerated drawl, his face brightening up in a smolder.

 

“Quit it, Bolin. It’s her first day, let her breathe,” Asami playfully smacks his arm.

 

“Ow! I just said hello, is that such a crime?” He pouted, rubbing the area she smacked with a doleful expression that reminded Korra of a reprimanded child.

 

“When you look at her like that, it is.” Asami propped dainty hands on her hips. Korra silently notes his name, uncomfortably tittering and smiling back at the kind fellow. Her eyes traveled behind Bolin to find the other guy dreadfully following him. He was taller than all three of them, eyes a golden brown, his dark hair neatly puffed up, nicely defined muscles displayed from a shirt similar to Bolin’s, but colored a plain brown and a deep red scarf wrapped around his neck as he held two books in one hand, the other tucked into his pocket.

 

Korra wondered why the taller one was wearing a scarf at the near end of summer. She was nearly melting from this heat.

 

“Korra, this is Bolin and that’s Mako, his brother. Guys, this is Korra.” Asami introduced.

 

“Hey,” Korra waved an awkward hand to the two gazing at her.

 

“Wow! You’re so pretty!” Bolin says in awe, green eyes glimmering while Mako watches her with a cold stare. He sure is broody. So much for a warm welcome.

 

“Aha, thanks,” Korra giggled uneasily, not used to having so much attention on herself.

 

“So, where’re you fr-”

 

Then a honk was heard. All four sets of eyes follow the sound and Korra immediately recognizes it. It’s Tarrlok. A sigh of relief nearly escapes her lips. Never did she think she would be relieved from seeing Tarrlok’s car.

 

“Sorry guys, my dad’s here. I’ll see you all later, yeah?” Korra muttered hastily, already moving away from the group with a wave of her hand towards the gray car.

 

Just across the sidewalk, into the car, and she could go home. The couch or bed, she’s not picky, calling her name seductively in what she would hope to be a well-deserved nap.

 

“Wait! Korra!” Asami called. Korra froze in her tracks and glanced over her shoulder to find her friend jogging towards her. “Aren’t you going to introduce me?” She says slyly.

 

Korra groaned. She’d been avoiding bringing that up. It’s not that she did not want her to meet him, it’s more that she doesn’t want to hear anything disgusting between the two. Knowing the man, Tarrlok undoubtedly would flirt in return if Asami did. Actually, he would undoubtedly flirt with anyone with a gorgeous face and knock-out body. Stomping a foot, she caved in. “Fine, come on,” She waved for Asami to follow. Clearly dreading this interaction, Korra’s shoulders slightly droop as she hopes Tarrlok catches on.

 

Opening the car door, she catches the distinct scent of Tarrlok faintly lingering in the air.

 

“Hey sweetheart ,” Tarrlok says full of saccharine. He can see the murderous glint in her vivid blue eyes as she takes the passenger’s seat, closing the door, only to roll the window down. “Who’s this?”

 

Dad , this is Asami, my friend.” She said pointedly, silently willing him to understand that he better not say anything embarrassing, with the little that he knows of her, of course.

 

He understood. Oh, he did. His icy gaze going back and forth between Korra and the dark-haired girl named Asami. The smirk already on his lips widens in mischief and in turn Korra nearly groaned at the implication.

 

“Hello, Mr. Tarrlok. Korra’s told me so much about you,” Asami leans alluringly against the opened window, offering a delicate hand to the man in the driver’s seat. Tarrlok takes her hand and shakes it gently.

 

“Did she now?” He says, amusement laced in his smooth voice as his gaze trails back to the blushing girl next to him. She could feel both of them looking at her. Korra glanced everywhere but the two people beside her. Oh, is that bird poop? No, maybe a dead bug? He should really get the car washed. Oh, so interesting.

 

Asami hummed in confirmation, arms folded across her chest. “Although, she never told me that her father was so handsome,” she said jokingly.

 

That was the breaking point.

 

“OKAY!” Korra… squeaked? “You guys are acquainted! Bye, Asami! Let’s go, dad!” She said hurriedly with a very uncomfortable smile. Both of them laughed and it only made her cheeks burn more intensely.

 

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Korra,” Asami finally leaned away from the opened window with a graceful smile. “Bye, Mr. Tarrlok.” She wiggles her fingers in a pleasant wave.

 

Korra’s face scrunches up in disgust as she hastily scrambles to roll the window back up, hearing Asami’s cackling behind the glass. Repulsed, Korra visibly shivers.

 

“I like your friend,” Tarrlok says with a smug smile, showing his straight white teeth.

 

“Of course you do, you creep.” She groans as he starts driving off from their parked space near the curb.

 

But then he’s laughing, a nice laugh that belonged to someone who clearly found something so amusing about this situation. He sure has a warped sense of humor. It’s rather distasteful. Calming down a bit, he clears his throat, a smile is still present. “I’m just joking, nothing to get you all wound up… sweetheart ,”

 

“Spirits, please stop this,” Korra whines to the spirits above. She knows it is all in jest, but hearing the pet names for one another - dad, sweetheart - what kind of twisted world is she living in. Even if it has only been five days with the man, Korra can’t view him as her father. She doesn’t know if she can ever perceive him as her father. The only image of a father in her mind is her biological dad, Tonraq. Nothing can change that.

 

With Tarrlok, she regards him more of an ancient roommate, one who provides for her, who takes care of her, like a parent, but not really. She can’t explain it, Korra just can’t see him as her father. Moreover, she refuses to see him as her own.

 

“Kidding aside, how was your first day?” He asks gently, looking at her from the corner of his eye.

 

“Well, it was actually pretty decent, but nothing too exciting happened.” She shrugged, yawning in the process. One large hand left the steering wheel to relax on the armrest between the two of them.

 

“I doubt it wasn’t exciting, I mean you made a friend. Didn’t I say it would have worked out in the end?” Tarrlok said smugly, nudging his elbow with hers. Turning to face him, Korra watched him with an unreadable look. He snuck a glance at her when he began feeling awkward under her gaze. “Continue with your story,” he encouraged, tapping a finger on the wheel.

 

“Hmm,” she hummed in thought, finally looking back to the road in front of her. “First of all, I got bumped into by some unapologetic dipshit, which didn’t hurt at all, mind you, but it got me in a pissy mood this morning. Second of all, I met Asami. We have most of our classes together and she’s gorgeous and nice, but I don’t know, something about her, she’s too perfect. Third of all, I signed up for volleyball.” Korra listed the events with her fingers.

 

“That sounds very interesting,” he said awkwardly, but it held a genuineness that she had been longing to hear all day.

 

“Not really. But Asami took me out for lunch at this place called Narook’s, which is soooo good by the way, and her car is amazing.” She remembered the sleek, black car she sat in earlier in the day. It was like no car she had ever seen. For one, it was antique, something she hasn’t seen in the bustling city, but it had touches of her. An air-freshener with a cartoon devil wrapped around the rear-view mirror and the steering wheel was not a typical one, rather it was metal chains shaped as one.

 

Korra wondered where she got such a nice car, but realized her father might have gotten it for her from his travels or whatnot. Lucky girl. Even if she barely knew Asami, she felt a strange connection to her. It was definitely when they were on the road to Narook’s and her viridian-eyed friend blasted some music with the car roof down that made Korra instantly grow fond of the girl. Their taste in music, or movies, or books were practically the same, yet their personalities were so different.

 

Shaking her head, Korra almost let out a chuckle at the turn of events. She couldn’t believe she made a friend that she genuinely liked and vice versa.

 

“You’ll have to show me one day.” He said interestedly. “I’m glad you had a nice day, I don’t like seeing you sad.” Tarrlok adds, but immediately regrets it once it left his mouth, nearly sighing at his mistake.

 

Vivid blue eyes are back on his profile, waiting patiently for him to elaborate. “... When am I sad?” She breathed.

 

He doesn’t say anything, pretending he didn’t hear her. It was going good, she was opening up to him. And yet he had to say that. Gaze stubbornly focused on the road, Korra’s jaw clenches in slight frustration and she reaches to switch radio stations. With a small smile, she attempts to lighten the disintegrating mood, not dampen it further.

 

Once she found a station to her liking, Korra rose the volume nearly to the max. She saw Tarrlok wince at the deafening drums and guitar and raspy voice singing. Acting as if nothing happened, she banged her head to the beat of the music with a smile on her face.

 

“Is it really necessary to listen to this music at this volume?” Tarrlok yelled, trying to outdo the boisterous music.

 

“Yes, it is!” She yelled in reply, her foot tapped with the beat of the drums in the background. “Come on, Tarrlok, don’t be such a party pooper!” She giggled and stole a glance at his disapproving face.

 

“Exit light! Enter night! Take my hand! We’re off to never never land!” She howled, following the lyrics of the song. The car slowed to a gradual stop as they approached an intersection. Even through the vibrations and the loud music, Tarrlok glanced at her, an indecipherable look in his eye. Sure he would nearly go deaf, and he did not take a particular liking to this type of thrashing music, but to see her laughing and having a good time warmed something in him. Especially when he nearly ruined that.

 

Before she can sing off-key further, Tarrlok turns down the volume to a suitable level as he appears to remember something. “Speaking of music, I got something for you,” he says, reaching blindly behind him to present her with a massive paper bag.

 

Korra looks at him in bewilderment. Was there a reason he got her something? Her birthday wasn’t until the end of the year. Finally moving the car forward, Korra peeks inside the bag and her mouth nearly drops to the ground in shock.

 

“A turntable?... And records?” She slowly pulls out three albums. One in white and beige stripes, another in black with a red rose in the center, and the other in shades of green and purple with a skull drawn on the side.

 

“Of course,” he said, like it couldn’t be anything else. “Isn’t that what the youth are fond of now?” Tarrlok utters while looking both ways before taking a right turn.

 

“What? Music?” She teased, letting out a laugh when he gave her a deadpan expression.

 

“You know what I mean,” he glanced at her, amusement sparkling in his eyes.

 

“Right, because us youth want to live in the past.” Korra says in jest, even if it was mostly true. Glancing into the bag once again, Korra bit her lip in excitement as she attempted to stifle the smile curving her lips. But then it occurred to her. Scrunching her face in curiosity, she pokes him in the bicep. “Wait, how would you know what the youth likes, old man?”

 

“I’m not old, and I don’t, but my coworker tells me pointless stories about his daughter that I could care less about.” He explains patiently, although he seemed a bit hasty to deny that he’s old. Korra didn’t think so either, especially with the way he looks, but she already established that it is fun to push his buttons. “In any case, I purchased a couple of records. I assumed you loved music with the way you’re always listening to it at concerning volumes…  Although, I’m not sure what type of music you’re into, so I grabbed a few in hopes it will be fine.”

 

“Fine? This is more than fine, and I can get into any music, really. This is actually really sweet,” Korra gazes at his profile in fascination. No one has ever been this sweet to her, besides her real parents and people who wanted something from her, that is. First the note, then buying her a closet-full of clothes, now the turntable and records. She’s looking at him again, but not just merely glancing at him. Her vision tunnels as she focuses on the man next to her. It was just like the first day in her bed, how she noticed each and every detail on his flawless face.

 

But this time, her glimmering blue eyes trail a little lower to his neck, over his broad shoulders, following the nice path of his arms. She observed it before, but it never really registered, that his biceps are nicely defined, at least she assumes so by the thin, white button up he usually sports. She tries to think back to the recent days if he wore anything else besides the suit, but nothing comes to her. Most of the time he seems comfortable wearing his formal attire, simply by rolling up the sleeves to his elbows, undoing the top button, and letting his tie hang loose around his neck, just as it was at the moment.

 

Unconsciously, her breath catches in her throat as she notices the prominent veins on his exposed skin. It is yet another thing she cannot explain why she actually likes it, but she does. Then her gaze trails to the large hands that lightly grip the wheel. They look like they held power, prowess, slight roughness, something she assumed he had in abundance.

 

Before he catches her watching him, if he hadn’t already, which she seriously figures he had, but decided to not voice anything, she bites her lower lip nervously as the heat creeps its way to her cheeks. Something warm in her lower abdomen began to settle, something that made her shiver, but she couldn’t pinpoint what caused it. “Thanks.” She blurts, gripping the bag a little tighter.

 


 

He could tell that she was excited. He hasn’t seen her this interested in something for the past handful of days she’s been living here. Not when she moved in, not when she conjured up a morning exercise, not when he spoiled her with new clothes, not when he cooked her food, not even when he allowed her to pester him playfully.

 

Tarrlok had to smile to himself in gratification when he leaned against the door frame to her room, folding his arms across his broad chest. Purchasing the turntable and some vinyls for her was a good choice. He heard the somewhat electronic pop music from his study and figured a break from work was in order, wanting to see how she was liking it. Mentally patting himself on the back, Tarrlok nearly scoffed at his vapid coworker suggesting he buy her food. How original. How wrong had he been. He’s her legal guardian now, buying her food is a given from the start. Even though she was fond of food, as was he, Tarrlok wanted to get her something that held emotional value.

 

Though the thought crossed his mind, she did not resemble the teenage girls who cherished jewelry, besides the silver ring she often fidgeted with. Now that he knew she had a penchant for music and sports, though he already guessed she did with the sports due to her muscular physique, he duly noted it for future use.

 

Just like her, he loved music. Although, it was not the type of clobbering or excitable music she was eagerly fond of. Moreover, he leaned towards jazz, or anything with a slow melody, really, but he was open to anything that sounded lovely.

 

The turntable was set up on her nightstand. The album with shades of green and purple played loudly in the background, the record spinning unwaveringly as the woman sang of believing she would never fall in love, or ever be loved. It was rather despairing despite the upbeat rhythm.

 

Korra was already dressed in a baggy nightshirt that practically engulfed her plaid shorts, brown locks falling in damp waves. He stood there for what seemed like a long, happy eternity as Korra lightly bounced in place and shook her hips to the electronic beats and angelic voice, moving about her room with a few pens in hand. That is, until she turned around and he could see her visibly bristle, nearly jumping out of her skin once she caught sight of him.

 

Fucking hell, you scared me! She snarled as he tried not to wince at her crude language. She threw a pen towards his relaxed body, only to have it lightly hit his chest unflinchingly with a light thud. What’re you doing just lurking in the shadows like a creep anyway?

 

Don’t make me blush, Korra. I’m merely observing my daughter finally grow fond of something I bought her. He shrugged in satisfaction. A smirk lined his lips when he saw the exaggerated roll of vivid blue eyes. She appeared to be more relaxed. Whether it was because of the favorable conclusion to her first day in a new school, or it was all his doing, Tarrlok did not know.

 

He did not by any means think she considered his estate her home already, but the tension in her shoulders from the first day had considerably diminished. Please don’t let me stop you from your dancing. It is a rather amusing sight. Tarrlok unfolded his arms to tuck his hands casually into his pockets, shifting his feet.

 

Pft, like you can do better. She turned away from him as she placed the pens gripped in her hand on the desk with papers strewn about.

 

That sounds like a challenge. He noted, his smirk widened. She had fire within her and he entertained the idea of attempting to match her. He bent down to pick the pen she threw rather lightly, he thanked the spirits above, off the ground, only to stand and lean against the door frame once again, pen grasped in his large hand.

 

Well it’s not, I’d like to save my eyes from witnessing that monstrosity. She said dismissively, playfully glancing over her shoulder to meet his pale blue depths. The mischievous way she turned to face him from across the room made him think she was planning something that he would presumably dread.

 

Monstrosity? You evidently haven’t seen yourself dance. Of course he was cautious, but he could not help the smirk on his face from widening further. She wasn’t a terrible dancer from the little he observed, but just like she was fond of pestering him, he’s slowly learning to do the same to her.

 

Okay, you win. Just stop with that smirk, it’s creepy, old man. She recoiled, but the corner of her lips quirked upwards as his smirk was wiped from his face. He didn’t understand the girl’s fascination for giving him pet names that were blatant lies. He nearly scoffed aloud at the audacity of being compared to a decrepit man with a wooden cane.

 

I’m not old. He hastily denied. Brows furrowed and icy blue eyes focused on the girl that sauntered towards him, he frowned lightly.

 

It was her turn to smirk and Tarrlok did not know how to feel about the uncomfortable stirring in his lower abdomen. Purposefully pushing the brewing thoughts to the back of his mind, he mutely watched her place small hands on shapely hips as she shifted most of her weight to one leg, her eyes glimmered in mischief. Funny how that’s the thing you defend. She chuckled.

 

He cleared his throat and stood a bit straighter, gripping the pen a little tighter and deliberately ignoring and willing the feeling to vanish. At any rate, I heard the music from the study. Just wanted to see how the turntable was running.

 

He could smell the sweet, fruity fragrance of her shampoo as she stepped closer to his front. Tarrlok wished he didn’t notice the aroma because of the unconscious shiver that ran up his spine. Well it’s working as perfectly as it can. She gestured towards the turntable. He did not expect it, but the air that was in him escaped in a huff as her arms squeezed his waist in a tight embrace. Thank you. I love it. She muffled into his shirt with a grin plastered to her face. He could not remember the last time something so small made him so happy.

 

Warmth spread throughout his body, reveling in the affection she’s actually showing him. Albeit, it is just a hug, he acknowledges that these things take time. Whether it be a week, a month, or a year, he’ll wait for her to open up to him. It took him a long while to push the issues with his own family to the back of his mind. Even if he has never told anyone. It’s nothing he ever wanted to speak aloud, it’s been over with. Done. It shouldn’t emerge or affect him this greatly just because he technically now has a family of his own, even if it is only him and Korra.

 

No problem, sweetheart. He smiled, strong arms wrapped around her smaller form and propped his chin on the top of her head. He decided he could stand there with his arms wrapped around her for ages if it meant that he could feel content again. He tries to think back to the time he truly felt at ease, but it doesn’t come.

 

Seriously, stop calling me that. It’s gross. She glanced at him with a queasy expression and quickly pulled away before it got awkward again.

 

I don’t think so. He refused, a chuckle escaping him as he gave her the pen and retreated out of her bedroom to the kitchen down the stairs. It was almost time for dinner and his overwrought mind needed a break, he reasoned.

 

—-

 

Few hours passed after he cooked dinner and their stomachs were full of unagi. Korra washed the dishes and he dried them next to her. It was a pleasant surprise that never failed to affront him. The two of them made small talk, he spoke of some stories when he was in high school and university, in which she clearly did not believe him when he recalled being the timid kid. Yeah right, I bet girls lined up just to get a date with you. That was unmistakably something he did not expect her to conjure up.

 

But then he had to remind himself that Korra had a very imaginative mind, even going as far as making him seem like a wrestler if another potential lover so much as uttered a word to ‘his girl’ as she so charmingly put it. He was no womanizer in the least, at least when he was younger, that is. I could see it now, you wouldn’t even give the poor girls the time of day, such a douche.

 

He had to raise his brows at her penchant for vulgar language, but in return she let out a bark of laughter and hip bumped him a little too hard, making him crash into the counter beside him, nearly losing his grip on the plate in his hand.

 

Her laughter rose blaringly, but the youthful color in her face drained immediately when she cracked an eye open at the clench in his jaw and wicked smirk lining his lips. He wasn’t mad. Why would he be? Instead he grabbed ahold of the towel near him, twisting it tightly before she flicked water towards him.

 

She screamed, running away with a grin etched on her lips, but ultimately ended up slipping on some water that trickled onto the marble tiles. He let out roar of cackling when she scrambled to get up and hid behind the counters before he went after her. This went on for a few minutes, until she fell to the couch in a fit of laughter as he smiled down at her, panting from their chase.

 

Clearing his throat, he watched her with mirthful eyes. Good, she’s smiling. A bewitching smile that he truly would do anything to get it to light up her face. Yet he could not believe washing dishes turned into a childish game of tag. Not that he was complaining, merely something he was not expecting.

 

He helped her up from the couch, taking her small hand in his larger one and immediately finished the dishes with the occasional giggle that shook her shoulders. Once they were done, he retreated back to his study with a cup of coffee in hand while she casually stomped her way back to her room, a satisfied smile in place when he faced her with furrowed brows, a ploy just to set his nerves in a frenzy.

 

He sat there for what felt like a few minutes. But in reality, it was nearly one in the morning.

 

Six hours spent hunched over a desk, writing and typing and closing dry, stinging eyes, and cracking an aching back. It surely was not good for his health. Maybe Korra was onto something when she said he was old. His eyesight and bones nearly deteriorating from sitting, hovering in one place for too long, squinting to read the little letters.

 

Yawning, he rubbed his exhausted face with both large hands. He’s only thirty-seven, almost thirty-eight. It is not virtually anywhere near the age his co workers are at. Most were frail and prone to slipping within the large building of city hall, while the only one, besides himself, able to function normally was a woman almost a decade older than him. Even if he was considered young for a council member, the youngest elected in fact, but as it was, he did not know how to feel when Korra regarded him as old. He had to chuckle at the thought that he was a normal, functioning man in his late thirties. It certainly did not feel like it. Glowering at the stack of unfinished papers, Tarrlok sighed, finally leaning back in his chair with a creak. He supposed he’ll take the rest to work tomorrow, it’s getting late, in any case.

 

Looking out the window in front of him, he gazed at the full moon shining in the night sky, lost in thought.

 

He remembered when he visited the music store earlier that day on his lunch break. It was across the street from where he picked up some take out and decided to pay the shop a visit. Although it was nothing to keep his mind going back to the thought, it prodded at him uneasily throughout the day anyway.

 

A vendor outside the music shop saw him looking through the glass and into the establishment with hesitation. In honesty, he was having trouble deciding if purchasing something from the music store was a good idea rather than buying her more clothes. She seemed to have liked that from their outing the day before, but was it enough clothes for the moment? Trends tend to change rapidly, especially with the younger crowd. He already noticed her taste for music with the way she constantly had an earbud in, notably when she worked out in the morning. He quietly wondered if she was deaf by the loud music blasted into her ear.

 

His thoughts were broken when the single vendor politely called him over to her stand.

 

The woman sold beautiful jewelry, the precious stones splayed out on the cloth-covered table in front of him. From sparkling rings and bracelets to shimmering necklaces and brooches, the woman had it. He picked up a dainty ring, a single silver band with the carving of a lotus, observing the fine accessory. As he inspected the ring, she spoke of giving that ‘special lady of his’ something to remember and he nearly froze, offering the lady an uncomfortable smile all while hastily saying he was looking for a gift for his daughter. The woman noisily laughed, clearly doubting and dismissing his claim by offering a matching necklace at a discounted price, just for making her laugh.

 

What in all seven hells compelled that woman to think he was buying something for a lover?

 

He didn’t wait any longer, setting the petite ring back to its designated place and bid the woman a stiff farewell while she continued laughing behind him. One hand still grasped the plastic bag filled with fried rice and eggrolls and the other decidedly opened the door to the music shop. Music it is.

 

He glanced at his tense reflection in the mirror perched in the corner of the room. Clothes rumpled and wrinkled, sleeves rolled up to his elbows, tie dangled limply around his neck and the first button of his shirt is undone. His hair is slightly disheveled, some strands falling into his eyes and the dark circles under the pale blue depths are more pronounced than usual.

 

He needed a smoke… and maybe a drink. His cup of coffee long gone and suddenly making his eyelids grow heavy. Looking away from the mirror, he pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from a desk drawer, placing one between thin lips and flicked the lighter as it sparks a small flame. The butt of the cigarette glowed orange as he inhaled, feeling the smoke fill his lungs, only to breathe it back out in small clouds. He sat there in silence, looking back to his reflection and watched the smoke curl out of his lips. Tapping off the excess with a single finger, he closed tired eyes and focused on the nicotine calming his body.

 

He was about to get up, to retrieve some whiskey from the glass decanter collecting dust on a table nearby, but then he heard the muffled music, realizing a record still spun lazily as it played a tune. It’s slow and relaxing from the little he can hear from across the hall, and he silently wonders if Korra is still awake.

 

Setting the lit cigarette in the ashtray on his desk, he stands, stretching long legs and he opens the door to the hallway. He runs his fingers through his disheveled hair and notes the music grows louder as he strides closer and closer to her room, the dim light casting its rays through the cracks of her door into the dark house.

 

Opening it cautiously, he peeks inside.

 

He did not want to walk in on something he wasn’t supposed to see, lest he gets a pillow or a plastic cup thrown at his head. He recalled babysitting for a friend when he was in his last year of university. Their son and daughter resembled little firecrackers who were adamant when they said he looked something akin to a snake. By all means, the two were deathly terrified of snakes. At the moment, he was offended. He did not look like a snake! But even to this day, he still gets the tinge of offense when he thinks about the two brats. Turning his attention back to his own daughter, he scans the room.

 

Tarrlok wonders if he was blessed by the spirits that Korra wasn’t an annoying urchin like those kids. Although she was a hand full, she knew how to take care of herself. That he was grateful for. Pale blue eyes fall to the girl occupying his thoughts.

 

She’s lying in bed, white sheets mussed about her, a tan arm dangling from the side of the mattress, that particular silver ring delicately wrapped around her index finger. The dim light above them warmed the room in an orange glow, and the record spun steadily as the slow music continued to play. The woman’s voice is calming, he noted. It compliments the lethargic beats, the hazy keyboard and the rippling guitar moving in a wavelike motion.

 

Wordlessly he moves towards the turntable, glancing at the girl sleeping on a tear stained pillow. Something in him clenched. He hated seeing her cry. He hated seeing anyone cry, really.

 

The thought of anything or anyone hurting her did not sit well with him. Tarrlok knew he shouldn’t worry about her, that she could handle herself on her own, but he couldn’t help feel the need to protect her from the people she couldn’t fight alone.

 

I’ll take care of you. If you ask me to. In a year or two.

 

He lifted the needle off the record as he crouched, his face levelled with her sleeping one. The music stopped and he was once again met with silence.

 

He stares at her unconscious face, observing each detail he can. Smooth skin, free of any blemishes, delicate bone structure that still manages to look strong, and full, pouty lips slightly parted. Tenderly tucking stray hairs behind her ear, he watched her. The pad of his finger gently wiped at the drying tears on her cheeks. She looked so peaceful asleep, it’s a stark contrast to her usual animated expressions and spunk when she’s awake. He wonders what happened to her. Even through her jests and tough exterior, and despite the obvious bottle of pills that is still left untouched and tears staining her cheeks, he can sense the loneliness radiating off of her.

 

His jaw clenches. Whatever happened to her in the past clearly still affected her now. Just like it did to him. Albeit, the loneliness comes and goes, but in times like these he thinks back to his family. If everything would be the same if they were still alive. He would want his mother to meet Korra, and cautiously considers his brother too. Perhaps.

 

His thoughts are broken when she takes a deep breath and shifts her legs under the bunched sheets. Icy blue eyes unintentionally trailed lower and he immediately regretted it, feeling the heat rush to his cheeks.

 

Just like the first day she slept in this bed, she is shirtless, the fabric chucked away in a crumpled mess somewhere in the vicinity.

 

Fortunately, this time she sported a bra, but that did not alleviate the problem. It did not explain why his eyes or feet refused to move. It did not explain the uncomfortable stirring low in his abdomen, once again. And it certainly did not explain why his heart rate spiked. The first time he witnessed her in the same state she was in now, heat rapidly rushed to his cheeks, reaching as far as his neck. He was not supposed to see her like this. It would be acceptable if she were a toddler. Toddlers or babies are usually crawling around in the nude, at any rate. But no, she’s a teenager gradually reaching the years to adulthood. It’s wrong. Yet he can’t bring himself to move.

 

Mentally cursing to himself, he shook his head. If this were any other woman instead of Korra, there would not be a blush heating his cheeks. If anything, he would smirk and let his lips trail kisses over her body, pleasuring the woman senseless until the very thought of standing was a chore. But by the spirits above, it’s Korra. She’s a mere teenager, and his daughter no less.

 

He could already hear his brother’s cackling if he really were to be here. He’d snicker, teasing Tarrlok as he did when they were teenagers, that just the slightest sliver of this young woman’s skin gets him this riled up like a virginal boy. He tries to shake his brother’s voice from his head.

 

Willing his body to get a grip of itself, he clenched his jaw as his eyes finally drifted away from her, moving to pull the covers over her exposed body. Unconsciously, he pressed a featherlight kiss to the top of her head before hurriedly striding to turn the dim light off, closing the door quietly behind him. Standing frozen just outside her door, he let out a long, suffering sigh, rubbing his exhausted face and retreated to his bedroom for a well-deserved, uninterrupted slumber.

Chapter Text

Korra couldn’t believe it has already been over two weeks into the school year. It was already the end of the week and, as usual, she was waiting for Tarrlok to pick her up. Every day he has held his promise in picking her up, despite her attempts to waver him. She acknowledges he’s busy being the savior of Republic City and whatnot and truly does not want him to feel obligated to do so, especially when Asami’s offer still stands and she’s perfectly capable of taking the subway.

 

Asami keeps her company, of course, casually leaning against the railing, humming a song that’s stuck in her head. Bolin and Mako usually trickled in a few minutes later, and although she already knew Bolin would be a chatterbox from their first meeting, Mako finally started to speak more than a few words to her in what she assumed was progress.

 

She couldn’t tell for sure, seeing as the guy’s mood constantly changed. One minute he’d be indifferent, maybe even a little sarcastic, but then the next he’d be brooding, following them around mumbling complaints to himself.

 

Korra usually ignored him when he was like that. At least, that’s what Asami told her to do.

 

It’s odd considering the numerous people who didn’t like the scarfed guy. By all means, she did not have anything against him, just very cautious for good reasons, but mentioning it to her classmates leaves her bewildered as to why they hate the guy so much. Her gaze focuses on a bee buzzing around a flower, her mind numbing, just as it had the whole day.

 

The day was unsurprisingly dull. Korra barely remembered what her three classes went over, and frankly she did not care. Although, the volleyball tryouts in the middle of her third period helped her bored mind focus on something nice. Well, it was nice, that is, until the heat got to her in the confines of the auditorium and her irritation nearly would have caused her to lose a spot on the team.

 

Asami watched with wide eyes as the blue eyed girl landed a spike that induced an angry, red spot on her flesh, no doubt going to leave a bruise the following day. Korra jumped in elation, howling at her triumph as sweat dripped from her forehead. But that victory did little to perk up her mood, as she went back to class and predictably it was as dull as when she left. Leaving that behind, she focused on eagerly jumping into the shower and relaxing into a pile of goo.

 

School was the last thing on her mind especially since it’s Friday, the end of the week, and to top it all off, the heat and humidity of summer did not wane like the weather man said it would. She had to mentally shake her head at that. Liar.

 

She was in desperate need of wind or rain or anything remotely close to cold weather, even though autumn does not technically start for another week or so.

 

Looking up at the sun, she glares at the burning star with all her heart, sweat beading on her temples and, disgustingly enough, above her lip. Why must this blasted star exist? She knew the answer, of course, but it’s rays were making her huffy and pissy and not the mood she wanted to be in today.

 

Too busy glaring at the sun, Korra did not notice the amused look on Asami’s face.

 

“Korra, you’re going to go blind if you don’t stop staring at the sun like that.” She could hear the amusement in her friend’s gentle voice. But that did not stop her in the least. If anything, it compelled Korra to scrunch her face harder in irritation.

 

“Good. Let me go blind.” She blurted through gritted teeth.

 

Asami chuckled behind her hand, but it was cut short when Bolin’s strong arms picked her up by the waist and into the air, easily spinning her around playfully and imitating the sounds of a plane.

 

“Bo, stop it!” She giggled, trying to stop her skirt from showing the student body her undergarments. Vivid blue eyes ripped away from the bright star and onto her friend and immediately her scrunched face turned into a blithe smile.

 

“As you wish, Madame Sato,” He emphasized with a posh accent, gently setting her down onto the pavement and soon was running towards Korra, about to share the same fate as her raven-haired friend.

 

“No, no, no!” She raised her hands, ready to smack to the boy if he got any closer than he already was. Even if her mood lightened from seeing her friends, she still felt the lingering piss and vinegar in her as she felt her thighs stick together through her high-waisted shorts.

 

“You guys are no fun,” Bolin whined, pouting and appearing as if he were a kicked puppy. His head bowed in exaggerated sorrow, clearly and purposefully looking away from everyone.

 

That is, until Mako shook his head and rolled golden eyes, taking a deep breath in before sighing, “Anyway, you guys wanna go somewhere?” Mako suggested blandly.

 

“Ahhh, I can’t. My dad is already on his way.” Korra said sheepishly, rubbing at the back of her neck nervously. She really did want to go. Not just because she hasn’t properly hung out with all of them, but because she surprisingly did not want to go home. Somehow every little thing has been irritating Korra, not just Tarrlok, but literally anything. The cicadas chirping, the sarcastic comments from classmates, the sun nearly melting her skin. Even going as far as noticing tiny details. She had noticed every detail in Tarrlok’s habits while she occupied one couch a few nights ago, finishing up homework, as he took up the one adjacent to it.

 

She was nearly done with the math problems her class was given, but she constantly got distracted by the twirling pen in between his fingers. She wondered if all smokers did that. Shrugging it off and continuing to the last problem, he abruptly stood up, retrieving something from his satchel and silently cracking the door to the backyard open. Instead of leaving him to his own devices, she continued to watch him through the glass from her spot on the couch. Small puffs of smoke came out of parted lips as he peered at the moon high in the clear sky. Her vision blurs, only focusing on his relaxing body as everything around the man faded into black. A shudder ran through her body, heating it in a way she did not understand. As if on cue, he flicked the cigarette, stepping on the remaining part only to stride back into the house.

 

Another small event popped into her mind from the night before. She remembered watching him cook dinner as she laid on the soft cushions of the couch, him adding the seasoning to the soup and promptly stirring soon after. It wasn’t strange at all watching him cook, but it was when she offered to help that the smallest flickers of warmth sparked underneath her skin.

 

She recalled chopping the vegetables into smaller pieces on the counter next to him, the blunt sounds of a knife hitting wood cuts through the muffled voices on the television. It was surprisingly quiet between the two of them and Korra was about to ask if he needed the diced produce when his hand abruptly took the knife from her grasp and scraped the vegetables into the pot. The remaining pieces on the cutting board were scooped into her hand, only to move next to the tall man and drop it into the boiling soup with small plops.

 

One hand stirred the soup while the other settled on her shoulder, bringing her slightly closer for him to whisper a soft, thank you , before pressing a light kiss to her temple. She remembered the indecipherable warmth tingling throughout her body from that small, innocent peck, fidgeting with the ring around her index finger as the heat from his body warmed her side.

 

Unconsciously, her hand drops down to the ring, fingering the fine piece of jewelry in thought, once again.

 

Home. It’s still a weird concept for her to think that Tarrlok’s lavished house is now her own, but she tries to say it as often as she can so it’s not so difficult in the future. And because when she does mention it to Tarrlok, his mood almost promptly changes to something that warms her insides. Wait. Why is she thinking about him like that? Wasn’t she supposed to be mad at him? Why was she supposed to be mad at him? Korra squeezes her eyes shut to stop the conflicting emotions and effectively is halted when she hears Asami’s tender voice.

 

“Come on, Korra. It’s Friday, and we haven’t gone anywhere together,” Asami spoke up, but shimmering blue eyes glanced at her, giving her a clear look that said, yes we have . Viridian eyes rolled exaggeratedly and propped delicate hands on her hips. “I meant somewhere that didn’t involve us going back to school.” She added.

 

“Oh, right. We haven’t,” Korra smiled timidly, wiping the sweat above her lip with a sleeved wrist.

 

“So? You up for it?” Her raven-haired friend asked with a cock in her brow.

 

“Say I did go, what do you guys have in mind?” She asked interestedly, eyes shifting to each of them. Asami tapped her chin in thought while Bolin still had a pout lingering on his lips.

 

“Eat out, walk around, I don’t know, we’ll figure something out.” The guy with the red scarf piped up.

 

“That sounds very tempting, Mako.” She said sarcastically. He sure was giving amazing suggestions today.

 

Mako opened his mouth, no doubt about to give her an irked reply, but Bolin broke him off before he could even start.

 

“What my wonderfully articulate brother meant to say was, eat out, maybe go to an amusement park, or shop around, and have a jolly good time.” Bolin stepped in with a grin, already sensing his brother’s patience for Korra thinning.

 

“Okay, that actually is tempting now.” Korra folded her arms across her chest. Squinting her eyes at her friends in front of her, she glances at each of them, waiting for a response, but Mako is the only one who appears annoyed.

 

“Tch,” Mako shook his head. It was Korra’s turn to open her mouth, to tell him to stop being such a mopey ass, but once again, Asami stopped her with a gentle hand to her arm.

 

“I’m in,” Asami added with a smile, folding her arms across her chest.

 

“Yeah, I’m in too,” Bolin spoke excitedly.

 

Three sets of eyes settled on her sweating face, and immediately she could feel the heat reaching her cheeks. She already established she hated the attention, but went along with it anyway, just to get their eyes off of her. Groaning, she acted as if the action was too taxing to actually do.

 

“Fine! I’ll go text my dad! Since you guys are practically begging me to go.” She smirked. Pulling out her phone, she found Tarrlok’s name easily and had to bite her lip to stifle a bark of laughter threatening to spill out of her lips at the picture she set next to his name. She snuck a picture of him in his frilly pink apron a few days ago, and what surprised her even more was the notable song he hummed while cooking.

 

It was one of the songs from the vinyls he got her and she wondered if he already knew it before giving it to her as a present or he had secretly been listening to it while she was gone. Either way, it was a welcomed surprise to know he had some decent taste in music other than that slow jazz that puts her to sleep.

 

She typed out a simple, Are you on your way?

 

Almost immediately, he responded with, Not yet, got caught in a meeting.

 

Brows slightly raised, she smiled. Oh, perfect. Can I go out with friends? Her friends were talking to one another in the background. She could hear Bolin’s excitable voice as he told the two a story, but tuned them out, waiting for a snarky remark.

 

Will Miss Sato be there? He replied, only compelling Korra to roll her eyes and nearly groan at recalling the horrific sight of the two of them blatantly flirting. She knew it was in jest, but it was disgusting nonetheless. Never again did she want to witness that terrifying scene.

 

Yeah, why? She asked cautiously, desperately hoping it was not something disgusting or creepy. But it is Tarrlok she is talking to. She had her suspicions, and he already revealed to her that he can be creepy, whether he did it willingly or not, she already knew.

 

No such reasons. I’ll let you enjoy, just not too late. He replied simply, although she had some suspicions she did not want to delve into. No. Not when the raven-haired girl was giggling next to her. It was too weird.

 

Cool beans, thanks. She responded, already returning her phone into the back pocket.

 

“So it turns out I can go out, after all. But, you know, ‘not too late’.” She smiled in elation, using air quotes to emphasize Tarrlok’s point.

 

“Awesome, let’s go!” Bolin sang off-key.

 

—-

 

Remarkably enough, the four of them ended up in an all-you-can-eat grill. Thankfully the establishment was not crowded with tired eyes yet, considering it was an hour before the rush of people typically came in. Korra and Asami sat on the same side while Mako and Bolin took the ones opposite of them in the booth.

 

Platters of different meat came dashing in, as well as the side choices of noodles and rice, courtesy of Bolin and Asami who frequented the restaurant. Everything looked delicious and her mouth watered at the appealing sight and smell.

 

Sweet spirits does it smell good. She duly noted to bring Tarrlok here, already knowing he would love it since they both had similar palates for food. That is unless he already ate here before. She would not be surprised, especially with the way he has been living in the city for a long while now.

 

“So you sorta keep evading the question, but what’s the story behind the scarf? I mean it’s the end of summer, yet it’s still hot as balls and you still wear it everyday like it’s no problem.” Korra asked around a mouthful of rice and beef, pointing her chopsticks in Mako’s direction while her face took on a more thoughtful expression. Bolin and Asami continued eating, the one shoving the food into his mouth almost boyishly fast while the other nibbled a little at a time.

 

“You’re one to talk, you’re wearing long sleeves,” He bit, clearly not wanting to go further, just as he has been for the past two weeks. Mako didn’t so much as give her a glance as he flipped the sizzling meat on the grill with his chopsticks.

 

“Yeah and it’s thin, stop beating around the bush, Mako,” Korra pushed, nearly swinging her foot under the table directly into Mako’s shin, but quickly refrained.

 

Bolin shook his head and waved the waiter over for another glass of water. “Just tell her, bro, I mean she already told us about her moving here.”

 

Mako finally spared her a glance, sighing in what she assumed was dread. Settling the chopsticks on his plate, he leaned back stretching out long limbs that grazed hers and immediately she flinched away. “Fine, on one condition,”

 

“What is it?” She said cautiously. She hated conditions. The last time she made a deal with someone, she ended up playing that ridiculous game of seven minutes in heaven, in which the boy blushed fiercely, too shy to do anything, and Korra crossed her arms in irritation, huffing and silently counting down the seconds so she can get out of the tiny closet.

 

“You tell us what happened with your mom,” He mumbled blandly. Bolin choked, the glass of water placed gingerly in front of his plate just in time for him to scoff it down with the slightest dribble of the liquid falling down his chin. Asami recoiled, taking a gentle sip of her own water.

 

“What?” Korra snapped in confusion.

 

“From what we know, you don’t have a mom or any siblings, it’s only you and your dad in the picture. So, what happened to her?” He said unflinchingly in a silent challenge. Three sets of eyes are on her again and she desperately wanted to groan, to tell them to stop looking at her like she’s as fragile as a piece of glass. She’s been through hell and back and she does not deserve to be looked at like that.

 

Straightening her shoulders and chin propped slightly upwards, Korra squints in his direction, challenging him in return. Despite her confident stance, Korra’s thoughts scramble to grasp onto the first thing that came to mind, muttering, “She left my dad for another guy, but she was barely there anyway so it doesn’t really affect me.” She hates lying to them, but she wanted to distance herself from what really happened lest they end up using it against her. At least that’s what happened to her at her previous school.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Mako’s face immediately changed from indifference to that of pity. Even if she gave them a perfectly good lie, she still mentally cursed at the familiar expression of mercy, of charity. Shoulders slumping, Korra shook her head.

 

“Seriously, don’t be, it’s in the past.” She sighed, picking at her noodles with the metal chopsticks. Vivid blue eyes glanced at Mako through mussed hair, giving a slight nod. “Okay, your turn.”

 

He took a sip of water before sighing and leisurely stretching out once more. “Like all of us here, we have dysfunctional families. Our parents died.”

 

Great. Now she really felt bad for lying to them. She couldn’t just come out and say ‘oh yeah, would you look at that, I lied, my parents are dead too’. They would never believe anything she would say after that train wreck.

 

“...How’d they die?” Korra asked slowly as she plucked a chunk of burnt meat from her plate. For some reason she suddenly did not want to know.

 

“They were murdered, some thugs broke into our house at the time and they killed them.” Mako lowered his gaze as Korra gasped, he nonchalantly picked the sizzling meat up from the grill to set it with his bowl of rice. She glanced around the table and wondered how they were all so calm about this. But then she realizes that that was a stupid question. That they knew each other much longer than she did with them.

 

“I’m so sorry,” Korra said softly, stuffing her mouth with rice and beef once again, hoping she would not say something stupid.

 

“Like you said, it’s in the past,” Mako brushed off. Asami pushed her empty plate away and gazed at the brothers with furrowed brows in concern. “Anyway with the scarf, that day my dad gave it to me because it was snowing. We were going to our grandparents house for the weekend.”

 

“But we didn’t know until the next day,” Bolin added, slowly slurping the noodles into his mouth.

 

“I don’t know what to say,” Korra settled her chopsticks onto her bowl of unfinished ramen, cautiously reaching for her glass of water. She couldn’t look at any of them in the eye. Not just because of what they were telling her, but the guilt of lying to them physically hurt her, actually making her stomach churn uncomfortably.

 

“You don’t have to say anything.” Bolin shook his head, swallowing the steaming broth.

 

“So, Asami, it’s your turn.” Mako mumbled, taking a bit of the meat and rice as Bolin waved the waiter once again, whispering to bring another bowl of ramen for him.

 

“What? Why?” Viridian eyes widened as the attention shifted to her.

 

“Apparently this ‘jolly good time’ outing became a ‘let’s reveal our past’ night.” He said blandly around his mouthful.

 

Korra rose her hand timidly, quietly saying, “Sorry, that’s my fault, you don’t have to say anything.”

 

“No, it’s fine, I just… I just didn’t really prepare to do something like this,” the raven-haired girl conceded, letting out a small laugh that held no humor in it. She tucked a stray lock of black, wavy hair behind her ear, lowering her lashes as she searched for where to begin.

 

Despite the sizzling meat and clanking of dishes in the background, it was abnormally quiet between the four of them and Korra desperately looked for something to fill the silence. “Since we’re all dysfunctional and broken, like Mako said, we need to stick together. I haven’t had such amazing friends like you guys before. Between the four of us we’ll get through this!” All eyes were on her once again and she smiled awkwardly. Not her finest hour, but she guessed it was better than sitting in a heavy silence.

 

“Anyways,” Mako dismissed with a shake of his head.

 

“Well… it started with my dad’s line of work. Keep in mind that even if he’s a pilot, he works with some really sketchy people on the side.” Asami gazed at Korra’s bowl of half-finished ramen. “I always hated it, my mom especially, but when I was younger we needed the money.” She picked up her chopsticks and reached over to pluck at some noodles before slurping some into her mouth. Korra pushed her bowl towards her friend, patiently waiting for her to finish.

 

Swallowing the food in her mouth, Asami leaned back into the booth, shifting her legs uncomfortably. “I guess he pissed some people off, or he didn’t pay a debt, or something of that manner, I mean I don’t necessarily like thinking about it, but one day when he was gone for work, they barged into our house. They held a gun to my mom’s head,” Korra froze, her vivid blue eyes widening as the brothers across from them watched her, already hearing the story before. “They demanded they see him at that instant or they’d shoot her, but obviously he was gone. They didn’t even wait for a proper answer. So they shot her and just walked away like nothing was wrong. I mean, with what they do I’m pretty sure they’re used to it, that they’d detach themselves, but I was about eight or so at that time and seeing that will always stay with you. Spirits, I can still remember it like it was yesterday.”

 

Korra felt a foreboding shiver run through her. “I’m so sorry,” she mumbled, slowly placing the last of the meat onto the grill with the following crackling as Asami shook her head.

 

“That’s kinda why my dad teaches me self defense, in case something like that ever happened again.” Asami supplied before taking another bite of Korra’s ramen, covering her mouth politely and pushing it towards her once again.

 

Before they could say anything else, a waiter comes to their table, a bowl of steaming ramen in hand. She places it in front of Bolin who looks at it with glimmering eyes, chopsticks already settled in between his fingers. “Excuse me, would you like another plate of beef?” She asks politely, gesturing towards the empty plate of meat.

 

“Yes, please, thank you.” Asami answered, tucking the same stray lock of hair behind her ear. The waiter bows, walking away with the empty plate in hand.

 

Clearing his throat and wiping at the morsel of seaweed on his lip, Bolin piped up and leaned forward eagerly. “I know this is a such a smooth transition, but on a lighter note,” He began, placing large hands on the tabletop and swallowing the last pieces of food in his mouth. “You guys want to go to homecoming?”

 

“That quick? When’s homecoming?” Korra asked. Is it already homecoming season? It’s only been a little over a few weeks into the school year. Spirits, the school moves fast.

 

“In two weeks,” Bolin supplied, taking a gulp of his water while Mako finished the last of his noodles.

 

All the attention was turned on Asami again as she let out a startled gasp, nearly spilling her water all over her lap. Both Bolin and Korra arched their brows and gaped at the girl while Mako watched coolly.

 

“Shit, I totally forgot!” Asami cursed, scratching her head with a single finger.

 

“Hey since we’re already out, we should look around for what we’re going to wear.” Mako suggested before leaning into the booth casually.

 

“Well… you probably weren’t listening before, but my dad said I can’t stay out too late,” Korra ventured cautiously. She didn’t want Tarrlok to get mad at her and she surprisingly hasn’t got him to the point of yelling at her yet. Wondering how he would even react, her thoughts are broken when Mako’s teasing voice is directed to her.

 

“It sounds like you really love your dad,” The tiniest of smiles curve his lips and Korra bristles at the implication. Her? Love Tarrlok? Wha- In what world? The audacity! Is that what it was? They were all looking at her expectantly and she could feel the heat rapidly burning her cheeks.

 

The voice in the back of her mind dangerously speaks up. Maybe not love, but definitely something in that nature. It would explain why you get those chills every time he’s being playful, or you know, those long, meaningful stares when you notice you like something he did, or that widdle kiss he gave you yesterday. She wanted to smack that treacherous voice, to tell it to go fuck off, to torture some other poor soul who has a lot more time to deal with daddy issues than her, but her cheeks burn fiercely, nearly pawing at the red tinge on her skin in irritation. Tarrlok has been spoiling her because he has always wanted a child of his own, and in turn she likes the attention because it reminds her of when she was with her actual parents, she tries to reason.

 

Sure, whatever helps you sleep at night. Shoving the voice aside, her brows furrow in offense.

 

“What do you mean? Of course I love him, I mean he’s my dad and- errrg whatever,” She hastily defends, trying to get back on the original topic by waving his comment aside. “Anyway, I don’t have that much money with me, and I’ve never been to homecoming, sooooooo…”

 

“Wait, seriously?” Bolin asked incredulously, chunks of rice sputtered out of his mouth and Mako smacked his brother’s shoulder, repulsed.

 

Nodding her head with her brows furrowed in confusion, Korra said, “Yeah…?”

 

“Sweetie, don’t worry about that, we’ll help you, and just pay us back whatever you can’t pay for yourself,” Asami dismissed with a wave of her hand, gladly picking up her chopsticks as the waiter placed two more plates of raw beef at the edge of the table.

 

“You sure? Aren’t homecoming dresses expensive?” Korra asked, she did not want to be such a burden to them. Reaching across Asami to grab ahold of a plate, she distributes the pieces of raw meat onto the darkening grill.

 

“I think you’re talking about prom dresses. Wow, you really haven’t been to homecoming.” Asami informs her, lightly tapping the tip of her chopstick to her lips. Korra sets the plate back down and notices both the brothers across from her gazing at the searing meat longingly. Their green and golden eyes glimmering with excitement. Korra nearly laughs, this must be the only time she has seen Mako hold more emotion for something other than his scarf.

 

“That is what I said,” Korra shrugs with a smile lining her lips.

 

Bolin finally tears his eyes from the simmering food and switches back and forth between Korra and Asami. Pointing his chopsticks in her direction, he leans forward in interest. “I mean I know it’s not a big deal, but out of curiosity, why haven’t you gone before?”

 

“I didn’t really care for it and no one asked me to go.” Korra shrugged again, flipping the pieces of meat on the grill. She didn’t notice the way all three of them looked at each other in some secret language she wasn’t aware of.

 

“Your friends didn’t go with you?” Asami mumbled slowly.

 

“No… Were they supposed to?” Setting her chopsticks back onto the empty plate, Korra flops onto the booth, relaxing her body. She really did not see the point in going to the school dance. People awkwardly grinding in what they thought was sexy, loud and overly-played music, and the whole student body cramped into one space. It was definitely something she did not revel in and was proud that she didn’t take part in that atrocity.

 

“Korra! That’s basically the whole point of homecoming, just to hang out with friends if you didn’t get asked to go.” Asami giggled.

 

“Hmm,” She thought about it. Even if she did not want to go, what did she have to lose? She considered her options. A night spent with the machine of sarcastic remarks and crying in bed, or spent with her new friends, most likely doing what they’re doing now, but in the confines of the school auditorium. “Well, in that case, why not?”

 

“Yes, a newbie!” Bolin slammed his fist onto the tabletop with enthusiasm, causing the dishes to jump from the surface as a small crack split down the wood. They all flinched. As did the few people scattered in the restaurant glancing their way at the abrupt sound. Mako pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head as his brother muttered a confused, “What?”

 

“Hold your horses, we still gotta finish all this.” Asami said, pointedly eying the food dispersed around them.

 

“Right, right, got it, sorry guys.” He whispered, scanning the restaurant self consciously.

 

With that, everyone slowly began to return to their meals, still glancing every so often at the four teenagers occupying the booth.

 


 

Korra couldn’t decide whether she ate something bad or not, but the pain in her stomach was stagnant. Or was it lower than her stomach? She couldn’t tell, the pain blurred together in a sharp mass. She attempted to focus on the dresses Asami pressed against her front, but it was fruitless.

 

Bellies filled with noodles, rice, and beef, the four walked off some of the calories by jumping from one shop to another, sorting through different types of dresses. Korra didn’t realize there were so many types of dresses until Asami showed her the difference, even if it made no impact on her. Ball gown, a-line, trumpet, mermaid, flared… it all tangled together. She stopped paying attention when the pain slowly radiated from what she assumed was her lower abdomen to her back.

 

The sun was gradually falling and nearly perched itself on the mountains surrounding the city. Asami was saying something, something about the dresses needing to flatter her figure or whatnot, but Korra tuned out her friend. Instead, she gazed out the window, the remaining rays of sunlight filtering through the glass as the sky gradually turned a dazzling orange to dark blue and eventually black.

 

Instead of stars brightening the sky, neon lights replaced them by illuminating the city, showcasing the stores and their products inside. For some reason, she felt like she was in a dream. The luminous lights flashed different colors below them. The store was on the fifth floor and not nearly high enough to see the city splayed out in a beautiful array of fluttering lights and moving cars and passing trains.

 

She didn’t realize how astonishing and calming the city actually was. But then the pain stabs at her again and she tries to stifle the grimace threatening to scrunch her face.

 

Maybe it was the beef. But wouldn’t the three of them feel it too if it was the beef? Heat was sparking through her body, making sweat bead at her temples.

 

Her focus was broken when Asami let out a loud gasp, hurriedly calling the brothers to her side. What was going on? Why were they looking at her that way?

 

“You should try this one on,” Asami smiled eagerly, oblivious to Korra’s discomfort.

 

Korra glanced at the brothers next to her raven-haired friend. Mako looked indifferent, as usual, maybe even with a tint of pink to his cheeks, she couldn’t tell for sure with the lighting in the store. But Bolin, on the other hand, he nearly had heart eyes directed her way, mouth dropped to the floor. Asami pulled the dress away from her front and shook it enticingly to her.

 

Vivid blue eyes widened and brows arched in shock, mumbling a simple, “Well shit, guys.”

 

“Come on,” Asami handed her the sleek material and guided her towards the dressing room across the store.

 

Locking the door behind her with a flick, she stared at the dress as it dangled from the hanger in her hand. This was unmistakably out of her comfort zone, but hell was this hot. She couldn’t remember the last time anyone actually pushed her do something out of her comfort zone, immediately appreciating Asami’s presence. Sighing, she stripped off her shirt and shorts, throwing them in a heap on the single chair in the corner.

 

She hesitated when it came to her bra. Somehow she already knew she’ll end up purchasing the shiny material. Blindly reaching behind her, Korra unhooks the clasps of her bra and tosses it to the pile.

 

Nearly jumping out of her skin, Asami’s hand popped into her stall from the opening above the door, a pair of black, open-toed heels dangling from her fingers by the straps. “Try these on too,” She blurted loud enough to hear in her gentle voice.

 

Korra reluctantly took the heels. What did she get herself into? She desperately hoped that the night two weeks from today goes as planned, that she didn’t fall flat on her face from attempting to look sexy in these high heels. She had to give Asami credit though. Merely stepping into the dress definitely made her feel a hell of a lot more confident with herself, maybe even a little awkward and silly from not knowing how to properly act in it. Should she act like a dominatrix and buy a whip too? Or should she act like an egotistical snob and purchase a top hat along with the get-up. Strapping the heels securely at the level of her ankle, she stood up once more, giving her reflection a good look.

 

Baby blue latex clung to her figure better than her own skin, her breasts practically spilling out of the shiny material. Her waist is cinched by the latex, the hem nearly stops mid-thigh. Spirits, what in all hells compelled Asami to choose this for her? She swallowed nervously, hell, what would her parents think if they were still alive? Then her eyes widened further, oh no, what would Tarrlok think? He’ll no doubt be clumped with the numerous people witnessing her in this tight dress.

 

She pictures the pink tinge coloring his cheeks, maybe even the clenching of his jaw, and the definite widening of his pale blue eyes. He’d probably look anywhere but her, or couldn’t take his eyes off of her. She curses herself, catching herself thinking about him once again. Shaking her head to rid the image of her supposed father, she tries to avoid connecting two and two, but she can’t help comparing the feeling to that of Howl.

 

Howl. Spirits, it can’t be like that with Tarrlok. He is her legal guardian, her adoptive father, supposed to be a father figure. Yet she already established it does not feel like he is. Just as the voice in the back of her mind supplied earlier, it explains the way her body unconsciously reacts to their teasing, or when he buys her gifts, or even simply looking at him. Her gaze flicks to her reflection, staring at her own blue eyes.

 

Lethargically her eyes glaze over, trailing lower to her neck, the bony ridges of her collarbone, then to her ample breasts, feeling the sweat at her temple slowly trace down the side of her face. It’s disgusting when she really thinks about it, sweating like a sinner.

 

She felt like one, at any rate.

 

Her vision tunnels, and surprisingly enough, it slowly dawns on her that it only occurs when she thinks about this particular man. Just as it happened the first day in her bed, or when he surprised her with the turntable, or when he pressed a featherlight kiss to the top of her head suddenly on the following day, or even when his long legs grazed hers under the dining table as he stretched tired muscles after a long day in City Hall as they did several times over the past three weeks with him. Abruptly, the dangerous part of her mind supplies a sinful image that makes her heart race and her legs buckle underneath her weight.

 

It’s a quick image, something that flutters behind closed lids, yet it makes her body grow hotter into the raging inferno that it already is.

 

She imagines him in the same tiny room she was currently in, but instead of staring at her reflection in the mirror, she’s drawn into his darkened, pale blue depths. It’s just the two of them, everything surrounding them fading into the darkness. She can smell the faint vanilla and cigarette smoke lingering on his clothes as he towers over her, that infuriating smirk plastered on his lips as it usually is, and he pins her between the pink wall and his body, a hand on her hip while the other grasps both her wrists above her head. She bites her lower lip nervously, a movement that does not go unnoticed by the man inches away from her.

 

He would make a sly comment then, to tease her as he knew exactly what she wanted from him. He’d let out a small chuckle, a low sound that would inevitably send a warm shudder through her body, only for it to settle low in her abdomen. A large, warm hand trails from her curvaceous hip to gradually reach her breast. Her breath is caught in her throat as that hand practically crawls to its destination, his lips descending closer and closer to hers until her eyes shut in anticipation.

 

“Korra, do you need any help in there?” Asami asks softly.

 

Korra gasped aloud, clapping a hand over her mouth, praying to the spirits that Asami did not hear her. “No, I’m almost done.” She called in what she hoped was her normal, steady voice, willing her nerves to calm down, only to realize that the hand not near her mouth was gently cupping the soft skin of her breast.

 

Removing her hand off her own plush skin as if she were burned, she glanced at her reflection one last time, swiping at the moisture on her forehead before unlocking the door. She swung it open to find the three lounging on the couch, their eyes essentially popping out of their sockets.

 

It was silent. Well, except for the soft pop music playing in the background, but the three of her friends stayed stubbornly quiet. Shifting her legs and not knowing what to do with her hands, it was beginning to feel awkward just standing there at the threshold while they gaped at her. Her eyes flicked to each of them. Each of their mouths nearly dropped to the ground and all of them had a tinge of color dusting their cheeks, although she had an inkling that it was nothing compared to the heat she felt on her own cheeks.

 

“Is that a no?” Korra asked slowly, confused at their silence.

 

“That is a hell yes,” Bolin almost shouted, a creepy smile lining his mouth, only for Korra to slightly recoil with an uncomfortable laugh. Mako cleared his throat and quickly recovered, looking away at anything other than the girl in a baby blue latex dress.

 

“Does it look that good?” She asked Asami, noticing the pink on Mako’s cheeks and the nasty drool dripping onto Bolin’s chin.

 

Asami stood up, lightly smacking the two brothers on the top of their heads with the unified oww! that followed. “You don’t think so?” She sauntered towards Korra, tugging at her wrist for her to face the three-way mirror in the corner.

 

Her cheeks flared once again. The dangerous part of her mind slowly trickled back in. That’s not what she should be thinking about right now, especially with Asami so close to her. Can she feel how warm she is? “It’s kinda out of my comfort zone so I don’t really have an opinion right now.”

 

“Well, you look amazing and I think you should buy the damn dress because you might give some guys a heart attack in it.” Asami smirked, perfectly shaped brows waggling at the very suggestion.

 

“Like me?” Bolin coughed out into his hand. He hastily glanced away from the pair, appearing as if his focus were on the wall opposite of him.

 

“Not you, Bo.” Mako smacked his brother in the arm.

 

“Ow! Is it smack Bolin day or something? Geez warn a guy.” Bolin rubbed his abused bicep, a pout forming on his lips as Asami and Korra giggled at the fighting brothers while Mako rolled his gaze up to the ceiling.

 

Korra snuck another glance at her reflection in approval as an employee came at her flank, four dresses in tow. “Miss Sato, you have an amazing eye for this one.” The woman spoke up in admiration.

 

“She looks hot, right?” Asami nodded to Korra’s reflection. Turning to the side, Korra looked over her shoulder and into the mirror as the her raven-haired friend mumbled to the employee. She tuned out everyone in the room, glancing at every curve on her body. From her well-endowed breasts and her shapely hips to the harsh arch of her ass, it was illuminated by the latex that clung to her.

 

She did look hot, there was no denying that. But was buying this piece of shiny material worth the heart attacks she might invoke? Was it even following the dress code? Her gaze trailed lower to the calves on her smooth legs.

 

Go big or go home. The voice chuckled without her permission. As much as she hated to admit it, the voice was right. Shrugging, she could bring a jacket just in case, Tarrlok most likely would shove one into her arms before she departs.

 

“Fine, I’ll buy it.” She bit her lip, effectively stopping all conversation between the two girls behind her.

 

“If you’re only buying it just to appease us-” Asami started.

 

“-I’m not. I actually really like it.” Korra interrupted, once again turning her body in order to see each curve of hers in the reflection. “I’ll get it.” She said resolutely to the employee. The woman scrambled, putting the clothes in her grasp onto the metal hooks next to her before hastily moving towards the cash register.

 

Awkwardly striding in the raised heels, she makes her way back into the small, pink room. The devious part of her thoughts came back into the light as she locked the door behind her. Tarrlok better be ready, lest he’ll end up in the hospital from heart failure. The voice was cackling in her mind and unconsciously Korra let out the tiniest of mischievous smirks as she stripped herself of the latex.

 


 

The drive home was uneventful. Vivid blue eyes glazed over as she focused on the neon lights swiftly passing them, the ever-present pang gradually increasing.

 

The boisterous laughs and their carefree voices muffle into the background. She can see their mouths moving from the wing mirror, but what they’re saying does not register. Whether she did not have the ability or simply did not care was beyond Korra. Everything blurred once again. Why is she feeling like this? Did she do something to piss the spirits off? Maybe this was a punishment for thinking of Tarrlok. If that’s the case, she surely must be a masochist because she had an inkling this wasn’t going to fade anytime soon.

 

As her mind automatically opens the car door once Asami parks on the driveway, her viridian-eyed friend shouts something to her. Something about a cafe..? Her head is still too full of scattered emotions that her words enter one ear and promptly exits the other.

 

Offering an affectionate smile to her friends, even though she, frankly, was bewildered why she did it in the first place, she makes her way to the front door.

 

She knocked, softly at first, but a tad bit louder as she grew impatient. Maybe he didn’t hear her. He must be in the study, working until his eyes stung from exhaustion. The pain in her abdomen was becoming more prominent as the night wore on and was nearly on the verge of puking. She was about to knock once more, but then she heard steady footsteps and saw his familiar tall, blurred figure approaching the glass door. Glancing over her shoulder, she waved at the three in the car goodbye as the front door cracked open, the warm lights spilling out from the house.

 

“You’re home,” He said in slight bewilderment, moving to the side in order to make room for her to enter.

 

With a huff, she kicked off her shoes into the corner where his was neatly placed, turning to face him. “Didn’t you say not too late?” She asked coolly through the painful stab.

 

“Indeed I did, I presumed around nine or ten, I mean it is a Friday night. I know how you teenagers are.” He as he locked the door, grimacing at the messy display of shoes in the corner. She’s already moving away from him when he crouches down and methodically places her leather ones next to his own.

 

“Oh, in that case, I’ll go then, yeah?” Korra pointed back to the door with her thumb, noticing Asami’s headlights still on as they have yet to leave the driveway.

 

He rolled pale blue eyes exaggeratedly, maybe even a little bit tiredly, but instantly eyed the plastic bag hooked on her fingers. “What’s in the bag?” He asked curiously, moving closer to her, but Korra dances away from his hands, a playful smile lining her lips.

 

“A dress,” She said bluntly. Shrugging her shoulders nonchalantly, she bit her lip nervously as the insidious thought comes crawling back. She really shouldn’t be thinking about it again, or ever, really. Yet the slow burn of heat creeps up to her cheeks once more. She tries to focus on the adamant pain in her abdomen, at least that will distract her, but then he smirks, just like the one she imagined in the dressing room.

 

“Care to enlighten me?” He says smoothly, his voice slightly lowering. It immediately sends a shiver down her spine and in turn she spins on her heels to make her way to the marble stairs, only to hide the blush dusting her cheeks from his gaze. But she can still sense his gaze lingering on her back.

 

“For homecoming, it’s in two weeks and since we were already out, Asami helped me pick something out.” Korra muttered, facing him once more as she grasped onto the railing of the stairs.

 

His brow cocks in interest. Whether it is because she mentioned Asami or the dress, Korra couldn’t decide. But vivid blue eyes lock with icy ones as he makes his way to her, his hand dropping to the iron railing a mere inch away from hers, and instantly the daydream repeats itself in her mind. But this time, as they were at this moment. Would he press her up against the wall? Would his grasp onto her and tighten in need? Her breath catches in her throat, her heart pumping blood faster and faster and she desperately hopes he couldn’t hear it pounding against her chest. “Can I see this dress that you’re deliberately hiding from me?”

 

“No. Not until homecoming,” She breathed with more confidence than she actually felt. With that, she promptly moved away from him, making her way up the cold steps and into her room, leaving him to stand at the bottom of the stairs. Before she can fully close the door, she spots his lowered lids still eying her with curiosity, and a hint of something she couldn’t understand.

Chapter Text

Once the door clicked, signaling it was fully closed, Korra let out her breath. The pain in her abdomen was nothing compared to the raging emotions that finally emerged from the deep depths of her mind today.

She had to shake her head. Tarrlok. Tarrlok of all people. It was all Mako’s fault. He had to comment on her simply respecting Tarrlok’s wishes, something she rarely does for the man, the insinuation evidently not lost on her. Since then, her mind was filled with glass shattering emotions.

Her frenzied mind scatters to find reasons, to rationalize this turn of events. Maybe it’s just a phase. Or maybe it’s because he is the only prominent man in her life at the moment. She goes with the latter. It’s the most plausible considering the past five years, give or take, she was surrounded by women. The only males in her life were mere children, nothing remotely close to an egotistical, grown man in his late thirties.

What would her mother think? Or worse, what would her father say? If they were still here, they would no doubt look at her in disgust. A man twenty years her senior, her legal guardian, someone she was supposed to view as a father figure. But she had to think back to just a few moments ago. That was clearly not how someone interacted with their father.

Maybe what happened a few weeks ago, their impromptu game of tag, that that was how she’s supposed to act in front of him. Not the playful teasing, and definitely not the borderline flirting. Was that what they were doing? Unintentionally flirting? She can’t think straight, a flash of heat sparks through her body once again and the sharp pain in her abdomen causes her crouch into a miserable ball on the plush floor.

The realization hits her, why she’s experiencing this sharp cramping, once she attempts to slowly stand. The familiar rush she felt immediately makes her groan. She doesn’t want to see the mess that is no doubt waiting for her and stumbles to the toilet. Pulling down the thin piece of cloth, she sighs at the small puddle of blood tainting her new underwear. She curses at her bad luck. It is no wonder that her emotions were a jumbled mess today and that every little detail could set her into a fiery blaze.

She rolls a piece of toilet paper and holds it in place while kicking off her shorts and underwear, searching for any type of relief. Waddling towards the cabinets, she scans the objects in the broad space. Towels, soaps, oils, cotton balls… spirits, even untouched candles are neatly lined in the cabinet under the sink. Yet there is not a single object resembling the shape of a pad or tampon.

It’s the last thing she wants to do, especially with her thoughts that were still in a frenzy, but she can’t sit on the cold porcelain all night.

“Tarlooooooooooooook!” She yells, taking her place once again on the toilet and hunching forward at the slight ache. To the spirits above, why did she have to be girl? When she hears no response, she calls his name again in a roar and picks up on the hurried footsteps. He briskly opens the door to her bathroom, his face the expression of worry, as if he were expecting she’d be lying on the cold marble in dying agony. Well, she did feel like she was, in any case.

“Wha- What happened?” He asked hastily, immediately noticing her discarded underwear on the marble tiles and the small blotch of blood on the piece of cloth. Pale blue eyes lock with her vivid ones and he visibly relaxes as she offers a sheepish smile. This clearly was not something she was proud of, especially when she was daydreaming of this very man a few hours ago to him witnessing her half naked and hunched on the toilet.

“You don’t happen to have any pads or tampons hiding away in your bathroom, do you?” She asked timidly, the sheepish smile still present on her face. If she could die of embarrassment at this moment, it would be most convenient.

“...No.” He breathed, appearing as though he were slowly absorbing what was going on as he scanned the bathroom. Korra slumped on the porcelain toilet, wooden cabinets swung open, and the discarded shorts and underwear lying on the cold floor.

She murmured a soft curse, sighing and dropping her head into her hands. Of course at an urgent time like this, his normally quick witted mind would slow to a snail. Lifting her head to meet his eyes, she took a deep breath in. “Can you buy me some, please?” She muttered as sweetly as she could with her shortening temper, an exaggeratedly charming smile lining her lips.

“At this time of night?” Tarrlok questioned and glanced out the window on the wall adjacent to him, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

Confounded, she followed his quick gaze, her face scrunching in irritation. “It’s only seven thirty, yes this time of night.” She insisted, tugging at the hem of her shirt. Why was he being so difficult right now? Spirits, she would have ventured to guess that he’d be more than happy to get something for her, something that she actually needs, considering he had no qualms with the other materialistic things he showered her with.

“Don’t get snarky with me, Korra.” His voice lowered, turning into his school teacher tone, as he folded strong arms across his broad chest.

Vivid blue eyes widened at his accusation. Are they seriously fighting now? In her bathroom of all places? When she’s half naked and very vulnerable? “How is that being snarky? I answered your question!” She raised her voice, and inwardly she winced at how high-pitched and whiny it sounded in her ears.

“This is absurd!” He matched her. Of course it was absurd, they were fighting about tampons and pads. “Just… hold it in while I go.” Brows furrowed in vexation, he turned away from her, making a single move towards the door as he sought help from the nearest convenience store.

But Korra’s eyes narrowed. Hold it in? “Yes, because us females can keep blood trapped up in our cunts until we get something to suck it all up.” She barked incredulously, small hands fisting into the material of her shirt. “Look, I don’t know what you know about the female reproductive system, but that’s not how it works.” The pause in his step made Korra let out the tiniest of self-assured smiles on her lips. Whether it was her crass word choice that compelled him to freeze and appear so affronted, or the thought of a mere seventeen year old that dared to belittle his extensive knowledge, it was beyond Korra.

“I believe I’m well aware of how the female body functions.” He growled through gritted teeth, slowly facing her challenging gaze.

“Yes, I get it, you’re old, now can you please get me a box of tampons before I get blood all over your precious floor!” She hastily growled back. The anger in his face intensifies, nearly causing her to let out an inappropriate bark of laughter. She refrained, matching his glare with one of her own.

“I’m not old and you will do no such thing, you insolent child!” He spat out, appalled, as he folded his arms tensely. Blatant lies that consistently spewed from this girl’s mouth.

“Spirits! Just hurry up, you asshat! My ass is already growing numb!” Korra shouted as she threw her arms into the air, which immediately prompted him to let out a frustrated growl, turning to angrily grasp onto the metal knob and throw the door closed with the following rattle of the walls. Even as she heard his retreating footsteps, she also made out the series of outraged grumbles and curses falling from his mouth.

Reclining back into the hard porcelain and folding her arms across her chest, she huffed at the audacity the man held. Was he really that selfish and pretentious that he couldn’t spare a mere twenty minutes to buy her tampons? She huffed again. The audacity.

At least he’s getting some relief for her, but promptly cursed under her breath as she remembered that her phone was in her room. Groaning, she dug the ball of her hands into her eyes. Twenty minutes. Twenty minutes, give or take, for her to silently sit on the toilet with nothing to do, but to leave her with the thoughts that she was meaning to avoid. Until she was snuggled in bed, that is. She figures it’s time for some reflection, in any case, and hopefully sort through the storm of emotions that were currently occupying the dark corners of her mind.

Her cheeks flared with heat as reality sets in heavily, going over what the hell happened. He just witnessed her half naked and witnessed the patch of blood staining the underwear he bought her from the weeks before. That’s what happened. She groaned once more. Why today? She was supposed to be relaxing! Spirits, she had to shake her head at their first fight. And over a piece of plastic with cotton shoved inside, no less. But she’s surprised with herself that they did not fight sooner. With the way she provokes him at every chance she gets, Korra is amazed at his crumbling patience.

Brows furrowed in irritation as she caught herself, making it out to be as if they were a new couple. But then she groaned again as she remembered Mako’s off-hand comment.

Ooooh. She wanted desperately to smack the brooding guy in the head and scream why did you do this? for all she could think about was aggravated man no doubt driving to the nearest store still sizzling with anger.

Instantly, her mind provides her with an image of the man looking as clueless as ever as he scans the aisle. Just the thought brings an inappropriate chuckle to escape her lips. The most intelligent man she knew broken to a puzzled mess as he stared at the various options splayed before his pale blue eyes. Figuring he’d stand there like an idiot, she assumes some poor soul would have enough courage to help him out, grabbing a box from the shelf and offering it to the clueless man as they tried to stifle a laugh.

But she had to be the slightest bit lenient, considering he most likely never had to purchase tampons for his lady friends.

Suddenly, the stabbing pain returns and she doubles over, grimacing. A soft cry escapes her lips, eyes squeezing shut. It most definitely was punishment from the spirits above, yet she can’t bring herself to regret her brief daydream. Even if she wanted to strangle Mako, it did make a lot of sense.

It shouldn’t make sense, and in turn, it only further frustrates her that it actually does. She hated that it did. Hated that the little things he does for her gets her heart racing the slightest bit, gets her vision to tunnel as if it were just the two of them, gets her breath caught in her throat as she feels the familiar heat tickle her cheeks.

But how could this happen? It’s has been a mere three weeks since moving into the lavished house. This wasn’t supposed to happen. She mutters a soft curse at her string of bad luck. She has never been so inclined to grow attached to someone, not since her parents died, and certainly not since her so-called friends betrayed her with such information.

Korra swallowed harshly over the lump in her throat. Glancing into the mirror in front of her, she stares at her reflection in an impasse. Really considering him. Tarrlok.

It truly does not help that he’s handsome, if anything it makes her decision much more difficult. The dangerous territory hidden in the back of her mind supplies the familiar picture of his icy blue eyes, the fiery sparks in those depths as their fight ensued just those handful of minutes ago. A shiver ran from her head down to her toes, unconsciously shifting where she sat. Focus! This was not getting her anywhere if she continued thinking about those half-lidded eyes of his.

Besides his appearance, he is incredibly intelligent. And at times quite funny, at least when she understood his quick-witted joke, that is. And definitely self-assured as ever, but she knew something softer was hidden in that egotistical shell he has religiously guarded. He has spoiled her with gifts each day, no matter how big or small, and she realizes that as her gaze trails to the freshly picked orchids gracing the countertop. Out of all the flowers in the world, he chose her favorite. How he knew or found time out of his seemingly busy schedule to pick flowers was beyond her.

She must have been sitting there for a while wracking her brain of the smug man because she soon heard the steady steps up the stairs, as well as the crinkling of plastic.

Thank the spirits! If she sat there any longer, the nerves on her ass might’ve been permanently damaged. The door swung open to reveal Tarrlok grasping onto two plastic bags filled with boxes of what she assumed was tampons.

“Here.” He said somewhat calmly, evidently still trying to recover from their tiff as he handed her the bags. “There was a large selection to choose from and I was having a difficult time finding one to purchase.” He breathed, feeling the need to explain himself when Korra pointedly gazed at the filled bags with wide eyes and confusion written all over her face.

“So you bought the whole aisle?” Brows raised and mouth pursed in stupefaction, vivid blue eyes glanced at the man awkwardly standing next to her, keys still in his grasp.

Sighing in exhaustion, he pinched the bridge of his nose, clearly attempting to grasp at the remaining fragments of his patience. “Just take them, I’m in no mood to deal with such asinine problems.” He spoke up, voice slightly husky.

“Well, gee, sorry that being a girl is such an inconvenience for you.” She retorted in offense and looked at each of the cardboard boxes, choosing one she usually uses. “You can go now, thanks.” Korra says somewhat stiffly as she realizes he still awkwardly stood at the threshold.

Grunting in acknowledgement, he turns swiftly, closing the door behind him much more calmly than the last time.

 


 

 

He had to curse to himself. Not only did he feel belittled, but very much exhausted. The day took it’s toll on him and it only escalated with Korra’s snarkiness.

The whole situation was so very frivolous and juvenile of him to pick a bout with her, to push his frustration and stress onto her. He blamed their heightened anger on his stacks of paper and her hormonal change within the month. He should have seen this coming, the inevitable fight, that is. With their usual playful teasing, he should have known one of them would take it too far. He sat on the plush couch in the living room, running a hand through his untied, disheveled hair.

This was not the way he should’ve tended to a delicate situation, especially with Korra’s constantly changing mood and her strength combined. Although he was mildly surprised, as was he immensely grateful, that she did not hurl an object his way. He glared at the two stacks of papers settling on the table in front of him, taunting him as he took a deep breath in, recalling what happened just a mere half hour ago.

Never in his life was it necessary that he did this. He should have foreseen it, especially now that he had a daughter and it was not just him occupying the house, but it did not make it any less uncomfortable.

Standing there in the aisle with strong arms folded across his broad chest, he scanned the shelves. Different types stuck out to him, but he still felt astray. He observed a woman from the corner of his eye grabbing onto one of the last remaining boxes of a particular brand and decidedly grasped one as she left the aisle. The section where that particular brand was laid was nearly empty, there must be a reason why. Perhaps it was most praised? There were a variety of sizes presented to his pale blue eyes. Regular, super, super plus? Spirits, he had never felt so unknowledgeable.

He stood there for a few minutes weighing the options splayed in front of him and nearly startled himself as a dainty hand reached out to grab a box. If you don’t know what to get her, just get all the sizes. You really don’t want to get her even more mad, at least that's what my husband did for me.

Before he can even deny that it was for his so-called ‘wife’ and properly offer her a thanks, the woman was already walking away from him. Taking a deep breath he took the remaining boxes and dropped them into the basket he held.

As he paid, shifting his weight from one foot to the other as annoyance was still ringing in his mind, he eyed the cigarettes behind the cashier and inevitably added the pack to the boxes. But then icy eyes caught a glance at the chocolate. Maybe Korra would appreciate it. Or not, considering her temper. Again, he added yet another item to the mix, the bar of chocolate with caramel seeping from the candy, from what he could see on the picture, at any rate.

Running a hand through his disheveled hair once again, he heard the steady steps of her approaching, pulling him out of his reverie. He glanced at her as she sauntered to the couch, appearing much more tranquil compared to the flames she nearly set ablaze in the bathroom.

From that single glance, she appeared to have already taken a shower, less haggard from when he witnessed her on the toilet. Wet hair fell just above the middle of her back, and shorts that were nearly obscured by the worn, baggy shirt loosely hanging on her. He observed she held a piece of paper, a pencil, a calculator, and the bar of chocolate in her hand. A satisfied smirk threatened to slip on his lips and he determinedly focused on the silence between them.

Breaking the awkward silence, Tarrlok cleared his throat, and stretched long legs. “I apologize for my ill-advised temper earlier.”

“It’s fine, we’re both still adjusting to living together.” Korra murmured stiffly, glancing at his tense face. Her unvoiced thank you was not lost on him, hanging in the air above them and instead, he decidedly changed the subject, allowing the situation to fly by him this time, to leave it in the past.

“Precisely.” He breathed as he was very aware of her presence in the house, acknowledging it would change once he settled the adoption. Whether it was good or bad, he could not decide, but by the way something stirred in his lower abdomen, he ventured to presume it was something he had to approach with trepidation. “So, how was your excursion through Republic City? Was it to your liking?”

“Ehhhh… Not terrible,” She started with a shrug. “It would’ve been great considering I saw the city light up from a somewhat decent view and the dress I bought is hot as all hell, but you know, the cramps kinda dampened my mood, as well as other things.” She began writing on her paper, hunching close to the table in front of her.

Watching her, he notices her analyzing what he assumed was a math problem, opening the plastic wrapper of the confection and breaking it into smaller pieces. “Mm,” He hummed as she popped a fragment into her waiting mouth. Gaze fixated on her plump lips, he admonished his brain for the thought that conjured in his mind. “I noticed you were hiding the discomfort when you got back.” Tarrlok said as he ripped his eyes from her to flip through the handful of finished papers, nearly sighing from barely making a dent in the two stacks. His eyes were already feeling the familiar burn as fatigue began creeping into his body.

“How’d you know?” She whispered with a suspicious squint over the melting chocolate in her mouth. It was her turn to watch him. He sensed her vivid blue gaze from its weight on the side of his face and immediately knew Korra’s childish attitude returned from the near eruption of anger she displayed an hour ago.

Easily locking his eyes with hers, he smirked, saying, “I’m a wizard as you so charmingly put it, remember?” She rolled her eyes and shook her head then, clearly expecting a different response from him, but somehow not surprised.

“Tch, well you certainly look like one.” She murmured under her breath, a smile threatening to spill onto her lips as she bit her lip in an attempt to stifle it.

“Such venom and blatant lies are not appreciated, Korra.” He lectured, his voice lowering in which he observed the tiniest clench in her jaw. He mildly wondered if she was alright, if her health was in need of tending to, but he chalked it up to her hormonal changes. Before he could make mention of her peculiar demeanor, she hastily got to her feet and into the kitchen. Why was she so restless?

“I’m joking, you’re not old… you’re aging gracefully.” She jested as she made her way to the cabinets, grasping onto the handle of two mugs.

Squinting apprehensive eyes further, he determinedly did not give her the satisfaction of commenting on her offhanded insult, too drained from the day that it truly was not worth it. “At any rate, you’re terrible at concealing such emotions. I saw that hideous scowl of yours once I opened the front door.”

“Gee, thanks.” She scowled, locking eyes with his paler ones as she shuffled through the selection of teas. “What some tea? I’m making,” She offered, her expression promptly changing into that of a feline.

With the way she was gazing at him - lids lowered and the tiniest of smirks lining her lips - the stirring in his abdomen intensified. It was the overly familiar stirring that occurred when he was in the company of potential lovers. Just as before, he shoved the thought as soon as it was formed. “Yes, please. Oolong, if we still have some.” He blurted, returning his attention to the papers that he needed to care for.

“Long day?” The amusement in her voice was not lost on him. Of course it had been a long day. Being in the presence of other insipid so-called politicians, whom of which do not work nearly as much as him takes a toll on his body. Stress was exuding out of his pores and he believed Korra noticed by the way her eyes swam with laughter as she immersed the tea bag into steaming water.

“Too long,” He sighed, rubbing a hand over the side of his face.

“Aww,” She pouted in feigned anguish, sauntering to his side in order to place the mug on the table near the finished papers. “Does poor, abused Tarrlok need a massage?” She propped her hands on hidden hips, eyes twinkling with challenge.

“Indeed I do, but I am not allowing your heavy hands anywhere near me to mangle my muscles further.” He says casually, leaning to perch his elbows on his knees as he skimmed the page for further analysis.

He heard an affronted scoff from the teenager a mere foot away from him, the words on the piece of paper barely registering. “Bullshit,” How she manages to consistently spew a vulgar and colorful vocabulary baffles him. “I took a sports med class last year, and I did exceptionally well. My teachers claimed that my skills are well above par.” She crossed toned arms over her ample chest, a cocky grin lining her plump lips as he finally glanced at her towering over his hunched form.

“I highly doubt that,” He breathed as his gaze returned to the paper in his grasp, but could see her already making a move behind him to prove him wrong. Leave it to Korra to find the necessity in validating her assertion. “Don’t-” He started, but was ultimately interrupted by her hands placed firmly on his shoulders.

Her hands began moving, kneading his tense muscles as she pulled his arched back to lean against the couch. Icy blue eyes resolutely attempted to focus on the paper, reading the same sentence repeatedly as her deft fingers dug into the knots under his flesh. His jaw clenched and his mind promptly, unconsciously, revelled in her touch. Squeezing his eyes shut and allowing a gratifying sigh escape his throat, Korra felt him succumb to her kneading.

“So why exactly are you so tense?” She asked curiously. He could hear the wordless pleasure in her amused voice, too preoccupied on the attention she was giving to his strained muscles.

“The Council held a meeting today and nearly all the work was handed to me. I’m not complaining seeing as they typically do this, in any case. I’m just stressed with the great deal of work that needs to be done on such short notice.” He ground out as her nails lightly raked his clothed shoulders in the process of her impromptu massage, voice growing husky. A spark of heat shuddered from his head down to his toes, and immediately recognized that this was a terrible idea, that he should have pushed her to stop before it even started.

“You, sir, overwork yourself wayyyy too much.” She breathed into his ear delightfully, bending down and stirring stray strands near his skin. He tried to keep the developing, sinful thoughts at bay, tried to focus on what she was saying, rather than what she was doing, but the shameful ideas trickled in like an overflowing dam. “Can you give me a piece of the chocolate?” She whispered.

Cracking an eye open, he easily complied to her request, reaching towards the broken sweets and picking up a chunk between his index finger and thumb.

“I do not.” He hastily denied as brows furrowed, his eyes closing once more, offering her the chocolate blindly behind him. She took the sweet confection into her mouth, the slightest touch of her lips grazed his fingertip and he instantly noted his heart rate spiked. She whispered her gratitude, but his mind was too distracted to hear her despite the close contact.

If his brother were here, watching him, he surely would smirk at Tarrlok nonplussed. Maybe even going as far as encouraging Korra to unintentionally further her attempts at breaking his fragile resistance solely to spite him. He could already see the disastrous image behind closed lids as it played out before him.

“Yes, you do. I mean, first of all, ever since I moved in you’ve been hiding in your study each night. Second of all, when you’re not huddled in there, you’re over here doing exactly the same thing. It’s honestly kinda annoying. Third of all, spirits, Tarrlok, just look around you, there’s two stacks of paper littering the coffee table, while I have only have a single piece for homework.” She said pointedly as her hands inadvertently dug deeper at his loosening muscles. Spirits, did she have to do that? Was she deliberately doing this to get a rise out of him?

Realizing she was waiting for a response, he groaned, muttering, “I hate admitting that you’re correct, but this work needs to get done by Monday.” The piece of paper that was in his grasp now laid lifeless on his lap.

“It’s Friday night, just relax. Deal with it tomorrow or something, I don’t know.” She suggested, her voice barely above a whisper as she stirred the few strands near his ear once again. His fingers twitched at the pleasant shiver that ran through him.

His body was under her control and he was desperately trying to gather his wits before something happens without their permission. In any case, that would never happen. He’d make sure of it.

Thinking back to what she said, he focused on her words. She did have a point, that work could wait until tomorrow, that he should take the night to himself, to relax before another storm of stress accumulated on his shoulders. Abruptly, her fingers trailed slightly lower from his shoulders and partially onto his chest, scraping short nails into his flesh as he was once again distracted with what she was doing.

A shuddering breath nearly escaped his determined lips as a tremor of warmth heated his body. This was getting out of hand. He was very much aware that it was, yet he couldn’t get his mouth to speak the words on the tip of his tongue.

“Fine, I surrender.” He conceded. “Spirits, that feels good.” A groan left his throat without his consent as she kneaded his muscles. That truly was not what he meant to say, but he blurted it out like a fool anyway.

“Sorry, what was that about you doubting my skills? I can’t hear you over your groans of pleasure.” She teased, confidence and arrogance dripping from her voice.

“Yes, yes, you win. You’re great with your hands.” He says hastily, not wanting her to become too cocky. But then he realized what he said and immediately the familiar heat crawled to his cheeks as his mind attempted to supply him with corrupt images of the young woman behind him doing much more interesting things with her hands, rather than a simple massage.

“Damn right, I am.” She agreed. Whether she understood the implication or not, it was beyond him as he was too distracted with trying not to get aroused by the mere touch of her fingers on his shoulders. It was the simplest of touches yet his sex drive told him otherwise.

He internally shook his head. He really was perverse and he no doubt blamed the spirits above for doing such a thing to his poor soul.

 


 

 

It was nearly midnight and the heat was getting to her. She truly did not know if it was the hot weather, the arousing exchange between the two, or just due to her frenzied hormones. Lying in bed, staring at the ceiling in the darkness, her mind once again grew numb from the chirping cicadas as it did every night. But what happened earlier replayed continuously. She doesn’t know why she did it, she doesn’t know what compelled her to offer the massage. Yet she did, anyway.

It was meant to be a way of pestering the man as her nerves were still rigid from their fight. She had intentions on ‘mangling his muscles’ as he called it as a way to get back at him for yelling at her in a time of emergency. Yet, somehow the dark recesses of her mind took over, shoving such childish ideas to the back as the voice curiously edged forward to take the opportunity.

Maybe it was to satisfy the voice inside her head. Or maybe it was her own personal desire, free from the wicked voice, to satisfy the daydream that she conjured up in the dressing room. They have touched each other before, spirits, they were in a tight embrace from her doing, but she sensed a shift in his demeanor as she worked out the kinks in his tense muscles and she silently wondered if he sensed the change in hers. He was much more perceptive and observant of her than she was of him, and sometimes even herself.

It has only been a mere three weeks living in Tarrlok’s house, yet it feels like it has been a year with the man already. Her heart was racing faster and the heat was slowly creeping to her cheeks the longer she thought about the involuntary groans and the close contact they were in. She still blamed invoking such sinful thoughts on Mako, she would never be in this situation if he kept his mouth shut. Sure, she might have noticed something, but hearing it voiced out makes it much more real, much more taboo. But she also blamed the heat she felt thrumming in her veins on the humidity from the near end of summer, even though she recognized that wasn’t entirely the truth.

That the man in the room next to hers was lying in his bed, sleeping or not, Korra did not know. She ventured to guess he was soundly sleeping, especially with the way he seemed exhausted from his long day in city hall, but she couldn’t tell for sure since she noticed the subtle change in the atmosphere earlier. Was he lying in bed doing exactly the same as she was? Thinking the situation over and over again and wondering what the hell got into her?

Her mind was still reeling from the courage she gathered to pop that piece of chocolate past her parted lips. What made her take the melting candy from his grasp and into her mouth, her lips grazing his fingertips, was beyond Korra. The dangerous part in her mind no doubt came into the light then and did this, but now supplied an arousing image of her taking it a step further, and sucking the melted chocolate from his fingers. She imagined he would freeze, his loosened muscles tensing once her tongue smoothly licked the pad of his finger as she gazed at him with lowered lashes in sensuality.

Would he put an end to their teasing game? Or would he continue their game of who would fall first cautiously with fascination and intrigue? Would he watch her plump lips circle his finger as it would to his anatomy? Or would he entertain the idea of her settling into his lap, letting the rhythm of their hips take over? The possibilities were endless in the private space of her mind.

Warmth shuddered through Korra, settling low in her abdomen as she stared at the ceiling, the subtle pleasure vibrating deep in her core. It was pointless thoughts that she knew would never happen, yet she couldn’t stop herself from playing it out in the darkness. She cursed internally for the millionth time. Unconsciously, a hand underneath the plush covers landed lightly on her bare stomach, tracing her soft, heated skin in random circles and imagining it was much larger, much rougher hands replacing her touch.

Once she recognized what she was doing, her hand grasped onto the sheets in a white-knuckled grip. The guilt seeped into her bones, wondering what her parents would think if they were here. If they would try to understand her feelings in this warped situation. Her father would most likely attempt to strangle Tarrlok while her mother would try to hold him back.

Even when she was a kid they were both very protective of her. That she remembered very well.

At the time she did not understand, but as she gradually grew up from the fairy tales they read to her, and reality nearly shoving her into her teenage years, she understood why they felt the need to protect her. She was an only child, their only child. She remembered when her dad told her around the time she was eight, that she would have a little brother, that he was growing inside her mother’s stomach. But that never came, as one day she recalled her mom crying in their bedroom, her dad hugging her in comfort. When she thought back to it once she was alone in the orphanage, she wanted to cry. She wanted to cry that everything in the past was stripped away from her in a flash.

Squeezing tired eyes shut, Korra’s brows furrowed in frustration as she felt the beginnings of tears well up behind closed lids. Sure, she wanted him on a physical level, but she willed herself to not get attached to him, to not form a special bond with him lest she wanted him to share the same fate as her parents. If that ever happened, she couldn’t take it. The guilt of unintentionally killing three people that were closest to her.

Spirits, she wanted so much to go back in the past and correct what she had done. Tears began to spill from her closed eyes, merely cracking one open to blearily stare at the silver ring perched daintily on her bedside table. It was her mother’s when she was younger, her father gave it to her as a present when they first started dating. Korra bit her lip, attempting to stifle the sniffles as she recalled the story.

Her mom wanted her to have it, she wanted her to hold onto a shared piece of their love and remember that they were always there for her even if she felt alone. Korra stared at the glinting ring as tears stained her cheeks and ultimately the plush pillow against her skin.

She wished her mom was next to her. She wished she ran her fingers through her hair, wished she could hum to her soothingly in the childhood song she used to sing, to calm her shaking body with the warmth of a mother’s touch. She wished her mother could tell her what to do, to tell her that it was going to be okay, but she knew it would never come.

Her watery gaze trailed from her mother’s silver ring to the fresh orchids that settled beautifully next to the accessory.

Tarrlok.

What is she doing? What had she done? She needed to stop this madness before it progressed further, to put the raging emotions scattered in her brain to peace. Spirits, it was only a handful of hours since Mako said such a thing. What more if it continued for months? If anyone had the knowledge that she was growing attached to her adoptive father in more than a familial sense, they would no doubt presume she was crazy. That she was dropped on the head as a kid, that she was a sick fuck who got off on the very thought of seducing a man who was presumed to be her new father.

The thoughts only frustrated her more and she conceded to the tears that flowed freely, uncaring if Tarrlok could hear her through the walls.

 


 

 

He was leaning against the fence of the balcony, a lit cigarette placed between his index and middle finger. The smoke clouded in small streams, slowly dissipating into the warm night air as he gazed at the glowing city distractedly, tapping at the excess in an unspoken rhythm. His mind attempted to process the rather eventful day he had.

The monotony, the meeting, the fight, the stress, the massage, and ultimately where he stood now, the inner turmoil. She advised him to take the night to himself, to relax, yet the only thing keeping his mind in a somewhat tranquil state was the nicotine in his body. He genuinely did not know where to start. Whether he was in a state of shock or not, he did not know. Rather he preferred not to know.

He was not a fool, he was not oblivious to the subtle change of attitude in her from earlier that morning to the time she walked back into the house with a plastic bag in tow. From their quarrel, he presumed it was due to her hormonal changes and it seemingly made sense. But now, as he thought it over, he ventured to guess something happened while she was out with her friends.

Perhaps they sparked the irritability in her, only adding on to the heated mood she had already been in.

He stared at the passing trains in thought as he brought the cigarette up to his lips, taking a deep inhale only to blow it back out steadily.

The spirits above were surely cackling at the torment they inflicted on him as he remembered the feeling of her firm yet soft hands kneading at the knots in his shoulders. Just the thought evoked erotic images of the young woman pressed delightfully against his front, her hands wandering his clothed chest, only to trail down further and loosen the belt around his waist, challenge swimming in her vivid blue eyes.

He had to stop this. The incessant thoughts bubbling up in his mind has only heightened his attention to her. Spirits, she was his adopted daughter! A mere teenager!

Running a hand through his untied hair, he closed tired eyes in irritation, bowing his head slightly as disappointment settled into his muscles, that the simple touch of a seventeen year old had him groaning like a moron. He felt like a lecher, taking too much pleasure from a simple massage. He sighed, watching the ash from the cigarette slowly float to the ground of his balcony.

That’s when he heard it. The sound that made his heart clench, his gaze tear away from the debris to his restless hands, and effectively interrupted the chaos wracking his brain. He knew he should leave her alone, but listening to her weep from the room next to his, he desperately wanted to comfort her. He wanted to hold her, but he did not trust his decisions at the moment lest he did something both of them would regret. Sighing, he took a last puff of smoke and resolutely ceased the stream by placing it into the ashtray he brought with him.

Striding back into his bedroom, he closed the door behind him with a soft click, placing the ashtray on the nearby desk carelessly. Gazing at his reflection, Tarrlok undid the knot of his silk tie that dangled helplessly around his neck, hearing the muffled sniffles that inevitably made his hand pause at his handiwork.

As deft fingers disentangled each button of his shirt, his mind wandered back to her mysterious past. It has only been a mere three weeks since she delved under his sheltered wing, and witnessing her in such a vulnerable state night after night only deepened his curiosity and sharpened his mind in the possibilities of seeing the smile light up her face. Instantly, an image conjured up in his mind, recalling an interaction from a few days previously.

It was notably a cooler night. He and Korra decidedly took a walk through the public garden after their stomachs were full of udon. Few people scattered throughout the vast garden, the sun setting over vibrant trees and flowers, setting the sky in a pink and orange hue. They spoke of anything that came into mind, and the knot in his chest slightly loosened as she took in the dazzling sights around her. They were nearly at the west gate once again, the gate where they entered, when a couple holding hands arrived with their massive, white dog trailing beside them.

Korra unavoidably squealed, her blue eyes glimmering in youthful elation, quickening her pace and leaving his side in favor of politely asking the couple if she could pet their dog. Tarrlok! He’s so quoot! She said with a baby voice, giggling and scratching at the dog’s scruff as it licked her cheeks. He recoiled, as much as he loved animals, he never took particular fondness over their slobber.

His hands loosened the leather belt around his waist, stripping the rest of his clothes off to drop them into the hamper near the door to his bathroom and stepping into the comfortable fabric of his silk pants. He moved to the mattress, sliding under the soft sheets and stared at the ceiling as her muffled cries became more prominent.

Jaw clenched, brows furrowed, and heart wrenched, he closed stinging eyes. Her muted sniffles are heard and it promptly reminds him of himself when he was a teenager dealing with his own family issues. He hasn’t revisited it for a while and he had no intention to start now.

Turning to his side and tiredly gazing out of the balcony doors, he watches the metropolis still silently bustling with life. He figures he'll conjure something up tomorrow, his mind too frazzled to decipher any code in approaching Korra.

Chapter Text

Soft jazz, warm tones of brown, the smell of brewed coffee beans and freshly baked bread. The whole cafe scene was growing on Korra. It was laid-back and soothing, and a stark contrast to what she has been feeling since last night. It really did not help that she was sitting in those types of comfy chairs Tarrlok bought when he moved in. Well, at least she assumed he did, at any rate. It is no wonder that she always falls asleep on the soft cushions. Asami sat opposite of her, legs crossed daintily, and although the day before was a train-wreck of emotions, it was a new morning. She repeatedly had to ingrain that in her mind.

 

A cup of hot coffee, a plastic cup of sugary delight, and two plates of partially-eaten bagels sat on the table in front of them, nearly forgotten. It was only ten, and although the sun was out, a few dark clouds loomed here and there, it was nowhere near the heatwave Republic City experienced the previous day. She was grateful to the spirits above that the weather was starting to transition from the humid summer to the chill of autumn. Not necessarily the chill yet, but it was definitely a notable change from the day before.

 

Korra watched the raven-haired beauty in fascination as she quietly wrote in her notebook, looking back and forth at the textbook at the edge of the table, unconsciously biting her red lips and brows furrowing in thought. How can she be so calm? Besides what happened to her mother, everything was perfectly laid out for her friend. Gorgeous, wealthy, intelligent. A green streak of mild jealousy struck Korra, thinking back to her constant string of bad luck. The only thing going for her was Tarrlok’s wealth, and just the thought of being such a burden to him did not sit well in her.

 

She didn’t know if she was having an epiphany. The raging emotions hidden from Asami was definitely a contrast to her calm exterior. Similar to the saying, the calm before the storm, that was definitely Korra at this moment. Spirits, not even twenty-four hours of this realization and it was already nearly eating at her insides. But then the voice in the back of her head actually seemed helpful, snapping Korra out of her daze with a sharp, get ahold of yourself woman! She was supposed to do homework, she accompanied Asami to the cafe just for it, so it would be the most convenient excuse to stop thinking about him and actually get something done. To cease the subtle thrumming heating her body. Yet focusing on the textbook was the last thing she could do.

 

She glanced back at her own notebook, staring at the empty lines, unknowingly twirling the pen in between her fingers. It was a good morning from what she can remember. Well, except for the dream that took her distorted senses and nearly melted at the very thought of Tarrlok’s smile, or smirk, or whatever he did that made her knees almost buckle from her own weight.

 

For the first time since she moved in she had witnessed Tarrlok actually rush to get ready, while she herself took her time. His unknotted tie dangled around his neck as his mind goes on autopilot to button his shirt. He must’ve been exceptionally tired from the night before if the twitch in his brow and his sharp, hasty remarks were of any indication.

 

Korra remembered slowing her pace to a snail’s crawl. It truly wasn’t to annoy the man further, although it was a good cover up, but in reality, the mere disheveled appearance he held earlier that morning nearly got the heat to rush to her cheeks as devious images began to fleet past her eyes, immediately reminding her of the dream she had. Tarrlok smirking, Tarrlok gazing at her with low lids and an intensity that could match her own, Tarrlok lethargically striding over to her relaxed yet tense body on the soft surface of her mattress.

 

Shoving the insidious thoughts aside, she recalled that Asami was picking her up, that is what she gathered from the night before. She reasoned that the cafe was only a short distance from the school, anyways, but that did not stop Tarrlok from upholding his promise. The man was very stubborn, maybe even matching her level, but just a mere fifteen minute drive to the cafe, he was adamant.

 

Arguing about it with him was useless, she figured, especially when he was in a snarky mood. Throwing her arms in the air, she acquiesced with a huff. He apparently needed to finish the files he abruptly stopped working on last night, the two stacks of paper carefully placed in a box in the back seats of his car. That the only way he could finish was if he sat at his desk in City Hall, away from her, he told her. She was confused and a little satisfied that he couldn’t concentrate with her amazing self bombarding him. But when she thought about it, it seemed to happen a lot more than she is used to around the man, even before Mako’s annoying comment. He let that elevator music he was so fond of play in his luxurious car and she was mildly surprised he did not complain when she switched the stations.

 

Did he actually like her music? Filled with intrigue and curiosity, she watched him in the corner of her eye as she gazed out onto the road ahead of them. He would routinely wince, turn down the loud music, or maybe even switch the station to his soft jazz, but this time, nothing happened. Maybe he was getting used to it..? Either way, Korra shrugged it off, knowing it would only add to the numerous problems on her plate she would rather avoid.

 

When he dropped her off at the coffee shop, she assumed he would roll to a gradual stop, to let her out of his precious car before driving off to city hall.

 

No.

 

Instead, he parked the car, the tiniest of smirks lining his lips as she glanced at him in puzzlement and he followed behind her. Why’re you following me? She breathed out harshly, tilting her head to the side for him to hear her. She nearly grasped the handle, but a warm shiver ran up her spine as his large hand settled on the small of her back, the other opening the glass door.

 

Your eyesight must be impaired if you can’t tell that this a coffee shop, sweetheart. Obviously I’m here to get coffee. He whispered near her ear, his breath stirring the stray tendrils at the side of her face and his smooth voice making her breath catch in her throat.

 

Abruptly, he was walking inside the establishment as if nothing was wrong. As if he didn’t just make her body react pleasantly to the sound of his smooth voice, while she stood frozen at the door like an idiot. Spirits, get ahold of yourself, she shouted to her frazzled thoughts. Just the mere sight and close contact with her supposed father made her senses go crazy. Swallowing over the lump in her throat, she walked in, striding to catch up to Tarrlok.

 

Vivid blue eyes scanned the cafe and immediately locked with viridian ones. Asami was already sitting daintily on the chair, a friendly smile lining her lips, but promptly widened mischievously as her eyes shifted to the tall man will long hair in front of her. Spirits, this is disgusting. Whatever happened was undoubtedly going to make her wretch in revulsion.

 

But Asami did not make a move to stand, to meet with her and Tarrlok waiting in line. That was weird, Korra noted. Asami had no qualms in doing so for the past few weeks of the man picking her up. Instead, she continued on writing in her notebook with determination.

 

She watched her raven-haired friend in inquisition. Big waves of black locks pulled into a high ponytail while her bangs were swept to the side attractively, a red and white plaid dress that stopped mid thigh, sheer stockings that clung to her slim legs, and raven heeled ankle boots covering feet. She was content in standing there watching her friend, but then a cheery voice broke her reverie. Hello, sir, what would you like today?

 

Large, black coffee to go. He said quickly as he reached for his wallet. The movement caught her attention and had her in a dreamlike state. Just like the many times this had happened before, it felt as though it were just the two of them, despite the fact that they were surrounded by people in a local coffee shop. She must have been too busy gazing at his veiny forearm and large hand that she didn’t notice his pale blue eyes were already on her.

 

How did she feel like she was in another daydream? Her vision fixated on his tan skin and mildly wondered what it would feel like if his warm hand wandered the toned expanse of her body. This really isn’t be what she should be thinking about, especially with how close they were in line, knowing how observant the man truly is. Yet she couldn’t help it. Mako planted the seed in her mind and she was merely tending to it. Nothing wrong with looking, as long as she didn’t act upon it… right? Right! Right! Right! The voice screamed.

 

But then she felt the weight of his eyes on her, she glanced at him, the tiniest of wicked flickers crossed his icy depths as he waited for her to order.

 

Oh, u-um, I’ll have a regular s-salted caramel frap and a toasted bagel. She stuttered hastily. The look he gave her as she ordered was indecipherable. Something that made her uneasy, but not in a bad way. Something that made the warmth in her lower abdomen shoot to her cheeks. Without waiting another second, she offered an awkward smile to the man next to her, letting her hand lightly pat his shoulder as she walked away from him in favor of Asami.

 

Settling herself in front of her friend, she huffed, slumping her body into the comfortable cushions and dropped her backpack to the wooden floor with a thump. You seem tired. Asami said, the amusement in her voice evident. Korra closed stinging eyes as she felt her body go slack.

 

I don’t seem, I am tired. She uttered, a hand running through her loose waves.

 

Why’s that? Asami looked up from her notebook, her hand still writing perfectly as Korra opened her eyes and glanced up at the ceiling in thought. She did not want to tell Asami, she wouldn’t believe her, anyway. Even if she spoke of her mother, Korra still couldn’t bring herself to say the truth about her own family, and the true nature of what she still is confused about in terms of Tarrlok. It hurts too much and the guilt consistently settles on her shoulders. But with Tarrlok, it’s too fresh, like a new cut that stings when alcohol is applied. Will she shove the dangerous voice aside, or will she inevitably fall into those depths of pale fire that already nearly sets her ablaze? She still needed time to process the events from the day before, anyways.

 

Just couldn’t fall asleep last night. She mutters simply, clearly not in the mood to say anything more.

 

Ah, I see. Asami sensed she didn’t want to go further. That it should be left alone as it was before the calming atmosphere in the cafe turned sour. No need to ruin a good day. It was quiet, the soft jazz taking over the silence between the two friends.

 

Blindly reaching for the notebook and pen in her backpack, she plops it into her lap disinterestedly. It’s not that she can’t do it, rather she doesn’t want to do it. Her homework, that is. It’s a lot. From a chart of the functions of the government to reading and interpreting a portion of a Shakespeare play, to finding derivatives, a lot was on their plate and they were determined to finish it by the end of the day.

 

Before she could do more than sit up properly, Tarrlok was at her side, placing her order on the table between them, muttering a soft, here you go , as he took his black coffee in one hand.

 

Hi, Mr. Tarrlok. Her raven-haired friend greeted with a pleasant smile.

 

For fucks sake, not now. Korra nearly groaned aloud. Not them flirting again, it’s definitely not what she needed at the moment. Not just because the sight alone appalled her, but because she felt the tiniest flicker of something akin to jealousy sparked in her mind. Of course she would never admit it, but she acknowledged the feeling by comparing it to her experience with Howl.

 

A pleasure as always, Miss Sato. He said, returning her smile with a smug one of his own. Grotesque. That’s what this was, grotesque. But then he turns to her once again, brows slightly quirking upwards. Korra, I need to get going, just text when you want to get picked up.

 

Oh, no need, Mr. Tarrlok. I’ll take Korra home, we won’t take too long here, anyways. Asami interrupted, and it was one of the first times Korra did not know what to feel. Whether it was relief or disappointment, she did not know. But the undeniable disgust was definitely still present.

 

Well, at any rate, if you can’t, Korra, you know what to do. He breathed, tucking his other hand into his pocket.

 

Yeah, I know, dad. Although it was necessary to say his pet name, it still did not sit well in her.

 

Bye, sweetheart. Abruptly, he leaned down, placing a fragile kiss to the top of her head, and Korra froze. Blue eyes widened a fraction while she felt the heat rush to her cheeks. Goodbye, Miss Sato. He said with a slight bow of his head, already making a move towards the door and bringing the steaming drink to his mouth.

 

In turn, Asami wiggled slender fingers with a flirtatious smirk that lined her red-stained lips.

 

It’s nothing she hasn’t felt before. Him pressing a light kiss to the top of her head, she means. Yet the small peck nearly made her melt from the blush heating her cheeks. She desperately hoped Asami didn’t notice, and almost let out a sigh of relief when she glanced at her friend. That is, until she followed her line of sight and saw she was still watching Tarrlok exit the coffee shop.

 

He wore a grey suit today, a blue striped tie around his neck and a pair of pointed brown shoes covering his feet. Just like his other suits, it was tailored to fit him perfectly and she hated herself for noticing it. She wanted to tear her eyes away, to yell at the warmth settling in her abdomen, but for reasons beyond her she couldn’t. The heat coloring her cheeks burned further as her mind began to wander. He really did have a nice body for his age, especially considering his occupation that takes a toll on him mentally.

 

She was pulled out of her thoughts when Asami’s gentle, yet teasing voice said, You know, your dad has a really nice ass.

 

Asami! Korra yelped as she swung her head to face the girl nonchalantly writing in her notebook. She must be joking. She must be teasing her just to induce a reaction. If that was the case, it certainly worked, but the small glance away from the girl’s notebook said otherwise.

 

What? I’m just stating facts, Korra. Asami quipped, shrugging in the process. The raven-haired beauty grabbed ahold of her drink and sipped at the cup of coffee.

 

Ughh, that’s so gross. I don’t want to think about that! Korra snarled, her face scrunching in a repulsed grimace, even though the devious voice in the back of her mind agreed with her friend wholeheartedly.

 

Oh, come on. Don’t be such a prude. You should know your father’s a dilf. I mean think about it, if you compare him to, say… my dad, yours is pretty damn attractive. She teased as she spread a layer of cream cheese on top of her bagel.

 

Yeah, can we not talk about this? I don’t want to think about my dad or yours like that, blehhh this is soooo disgusting. La la la la la! Korra sang off-key, covering her ears with the palms of her hand. She didn’t want to say anything more than she did, lest she dug herself a deeper hole in the muddled mess of confused feelings.

 

She figured Asami would’ve teased her further, but instead her friend took another sip of coffee, her emerald eyes twinkling with mirth. It was quiet for the handful of minutes that passed between the two of them. Asami seemed determined to finish the homework Mr. Tenzin assigned them, but here she was. Absolutely no motivation to write a measly word down and too preoccupied with thoughts of Tarrlok’s nice physique repeatedly circling in her mind. Thoughts of feeling those rough hands on her hips, or the naked skin of her back… or her thighs… or… No, no, no! No time for that!

 

Stretching toned legs out, Korra relaxed against the cushions behind her and tried to focus… Even though she knew it was fruitless.

 


 

The weight of their eyes on his back nearly burned a hole right through him. In reality, it was predominantly the young woman with lucid blue irises that he sensed, but he attempted to concentrate on her friend’s admiring gaze. He’d be lying if he said he truly did not take a particular liking to the attention, but that was inappropriate, at any rate. As was the plethora of events and wicked thoughts that occurred since the evening before began. Something that should never emerge from the deep depths of his sadistic mind.

 

Glancing at his watch, he duly noted the time. 9:55, the hands read. Excellent, he was still on schedule. Taking a sip of the bitter beverage, he opened his car door and took a seat, placing the cup in its designated holder.

 

The idea popped into his frazzled mind the night before, but it quickly faded into the darkness as sleep desperately clung to him. He still had approximately three or four hours to get everything ready. That is, if the two inside the cafe finished whatever it was they were working on, presuming they’d drag their conversation, as well.

 

It had been a long period of time since he felt the need to alleviate someone’s pain and grief, someone other than him, especially when he himself still experienced the fleeting distress. But hearing her muffled sobs in the dead of night broke something in him, evidently making his chest tighten and eyes squeeze shut in thought. It was then that beginnings of a plan conjured in his mind before sleep took him.

 

He took it upon himself to ultimately ameliorate her problems. To see her dazzling smile that compelled his heart to melt. Whether it was due to him doing a fantastic job at being a father, or it was something else entirely, Tarrlok did not know. He knew how delicate these situations are, he had personal experience with such a thing years in his past. But that did not imply he had been freed of the shackles of his father.

 

Clenching his teeth, icy blue eyes glanced at the clock on his dashboard and promptly decided he should get moving before Miss Sato took Korra home.

 


 

“You sure it’s that, not this?” Korra pointed to the problem they were stuck on with the tip of her pencil. Well in reality, it was mostly her that was stuck on the problem. Finding derivatives was not in any of Korra’s strengths, math in general, actually. They were nearly done with their homework and as much as she did not want to admit it, she was somewhat eager to get home. The little, dangerous part of her mind undeniably wanted to get a glimpse of the man that took hold of her thoughts for the past twenty-four hours.

 

“Yeah, here I’ll show you,” Asami said, already moving closer to Korra’s side with her piece of paper and calculator in hand. Before the viridian-eyed girl could perch herself on the cushioned armrest, she moves a fraction to make room.

 

“Thanks,” Korra says softly, already wanting to pull her hair out from staring cluelessly at the problem for so long.

 

“There’s really not much to it besides distribute this part to this, then simplify it.” Asami’s gentle voice speaks up, pointing a perfectly painted nail towards the portion of letters in the parenthesis and back to the portion next to it. Huh? Korra didn’t know why she was trying, it truly looked all the same to her. Her mind was already numb from derivatives and the product-quotient rule and the letters, why exactly are there letters in math? Whatever it was, it all mushed together and she was nearly going mad from constantly looking at the same problem.

 

“Yeahhhhhh,” Korra drew out, her face scrunching up in a dopey expression as Asami’s explanation only confused her further. “I know that’s all there is, but I’m terrible at math. You know that,” She said slowly.

 

“Hmm, okay just copy it then,” Asami giggled into her hand, handing the piece of paper to Korra. Relaxing into the soft cushions of the chair, Korra shifted her legs and began copying the math problem.

 

As she wrote down the steps in distribution and simplifying the problem, it started to dawn on her that it actually is simple, and she was just overthinking the problem… ohhhhh. Whoops. Drawing a box around the answer, her face turned from a scrunched dopey one to that of modest realization. “I got it,” She utters sheepishly, rubbing at the back of her neck and returning the paper to Asami’s waiting hands.

 

The girl next to her giggled a little louder, giving Korra a slight push to her upper arm. “You’re too much,” Asami beamed, moving to dig into her bag and pulling out her wallet. “Well, at least we just have one more assignment, then we’ll finally be done.”

 

“Yeah, that’s true,” Korra responded through the yawn threatening to spill from her lips. “I’ll go with you.” She says, making a move to get up and follow Asami to the nearly empty line.

 

It was quiet between them, the soft jazz playing on repeat throughout the hours they occupied the two seats in the corner. For the first time in what feels like forever, Korra actually feels at peace with someone other than Tarrlok. Someone that actually makes her want to tell the truth. But she contemplates it over. Should she? They’ve already known each other for a little over two weeks, and it’s more than she can say about her old friends. She’s still considering her options when Asami’s voice breaks her from her thoughts.

 

“So did you hear what happened with Tahno?” She asks, her soft voice laced in playfulness. A widening smile curves her beaming lips and her viridian eyes swam with mischief.

 

“No… Should I know already?” Korra hesitated, crossing toned arms over her chest as they waited in line.

 

“I mean, you do like him so I would assume you do,” Asami smiled smugly, playing with the golden clasp on her wallet.

 

“I don’t like him!” She snapped. One question about the guy and she wouldn’t let it go. What in all the spirits above made Asami think she would like Tahno that way? Sheesh, she barely knew the guy. Only knowing the sharp edge of his shoulder and the mere fact that he’s not nearly as frightening as she thought he was.

 

“Then why have you been blushing so much since yesterday? I thought it was because you heard what happened. Hmm, I guess I'm wrong,” Her friend friend piped up, tapping her chin in thought.

 

“W-what?! I haven’t been-” Korra sputtered, already feeling the heat rush to her cheeks as the raven-haired beauty’s teasing gaze settled onto her bristling form.

 

“-See? Right there,” Asami interrupted. A slim finger pointing directly to her burning skin and an amused smile widening on her beautiful features.

 

“I’m not blushing! It’s… it’s just really hot in here.” Korra stammers nervously. For the life of her, she couldn’t make eye contact with Asami’s beaming green irises. No. Not when the reality behind her blush held a multitude of confused feelings, especially when she was not at all ready to shed into light certain realizations.

 

“Mhm, right,” Asami smiled, clearly not believing Korra’s claim. She stepped forward as the man in front of her began to order, Korra following next to her. “Anyway, well I heard that he was flirting with Sakura back in calculus and I thought you would’ve liked to hear.” She shrugged, the smile still etched on her lovely face.

 

“Yeah, I’m being completely honest here when I say, I could care less about what he does.” Korra concluded, resolutely shifting her weight from one foot to the other.

 

“Riiiight,” Her friend drawled, her gaze still settling on Korra, but this time her lids lowered, as if she knew something Korra didn’t. She couldn’t take it, the constant implications that Asami brought up, that is. She had never been so wrong, so utterly misguided about Korra’s fondness and attachment to a guy.

 

Narrowing blue eyes, Korra tilted her head upwards in silent challenge. “So what about you and Mako then?” She murmured as she watched for Asami’s reaction.

 

“Mako?” She scoffed incredulously. “No, no, no, no. He’s like a brother to me.” Asami emphasized in what sounded similar to offense laced in her gentle voice.

 

“Hmm, I always thought otherwise.” Korra glances up at the ceiling in thought. The two did seem fairly close when she thought back to their interactions. Always touching one another, whether it was Asami hugging his arm or Mako dangling an arm around her shoulders, or one of them flicking the other in annoyance, it seemed as though they took a fondness with each other in more than a friendly manner.

 

“What made you think so?” Her viridian-eyed friend glanced at her before stepping forward to the wooden counter and scanning the menu as if she were going to try something different other than her typical coffee.

 

“I don’t know, I just got the vibe. I mean when you guys talk to each other, it’s kinda playful in a way and you guys are always together so I just assumed.” Korra shrugged nonchalantly. Great. Now she felt a little bad for bring it up. She could only imagine the disgust and ludicrous feelings that would come along with someone thinking she grew fond of someone that she viewed as a sibling. Similar to that of Bolin.

 

“I’ll have another cup of coffee,” Asami says politely to the barista, already shuffling through the bills in her wallet. Korra glances around the cafe, patiently waiting for her friend, but notices a guy sitting alone. It’s not that he was alone that caught her attention, but that his golden eyes occasionally shifted from the paperback book he held in his grasp to that of her raven-haired friend. She didn’t think too much into the guy, seeing as she already knew the girl next to her was gorgeous as is. “Thank you.” Asami offered a courteous smile to the employee. “What were you saying?” She turned back to Korra expectantly as they moved towards their seats once more.

 

“What was I saying? Hmm, I don’t remember.” Korra tapped at her chin. That man’s golden, longing gaze towards Asami effectively wiped her train of thought from the conversation. At any rate, it wasn’t important. Surely.

 

“Shame. Okay, so, I know I might be prying, but I’ve been wondering since yesterday about what you said.” Asami said cautiously. Clearly it was something she knew was a delicate subject for Korra if she drew out her thoughts at a lethargic pace. Both took their seats and settled into the soft cushions once again.

 

“What did I say?” She says a lot of things, Korra reasoned, needing Asami to be a little more specific.

 

“That your mom left your dad for someone else.” Asami hesitated, grasping the dull knife and playing with the remaining cream cheese on her plate.

 

“Oh, that.” Shit. She didn’t think it would come up again. Glancing down at her fidgeting hands in her lap, she regrets not telling them the truth. They told her the truth about their past, so why did she feel the need to lie to them? To protect herself? But if that were the case, from who?

 

“I’m genuinely curious why she left him, I mean he’s a good looking guy-” Asami began, a soft smile lining her lips.

 

“-Stop saying stuff like that!” Korra groaned, her face scrunching in disgust as she once again felt the heat of a fresh blush coloring her cheeks.

 

“Like I said, I might be prying, but… why?” She actually sounded bewildered and it only compelled Korra to silently want to dig the palm of her hands into her eyes in frustration. Why did she do this to herself? Why did she have to dig herself another hole? She could’ve made this a lot easier on herself if she just told them the truth, yet she couldn’t stop herself from lying, from trying to prevent something from happening like it did in the past.

 

“I don’t know, I was too young to remember.” Korra’s mind scrambled, a complete contrast to her calm and collected appearance. “But my dad always told me stories about them together and it was really sweet, like he’d spoil her rotten with flowers, they went on dates to the tower and just watched the city from high above, cooked for her and brought her breakfast in bed… but after I was born she seemed different… more distant. At least, that’s what he told me. He assumed it was postpartum depression, I mean it is plausible, but after a few months he found out that she was with someone else and she hated the sight of me.” She lied.

 

The churning in her stomach returned, and she had an inkling it had to do with the way she constantly lied to her friends… or it was another set of cramps that would inevitably lead to her hunched forward from the pain. Either way, it didn’t feel good.

 

“I’m so sorry,” Asami breathed, perfectly shaped brows furrowing in pity. Spirits, did she always have to do that? Always have to look at her as if she were as fragile as a delicate flower petal.

 

“It’s really fine, I’ve been with my dad since I existed and she left when I was really young, so it doesn’t make a big impact on me. I mean it hurts knowing that you’re unwanted at that age, especially knowing how much my dad loved her, but I can’t say anything about it because I didn’t know her.” Korra shrugged, attempting to appear as though she were hurt from someone as important as her mother leaving her.

 

In a sense, it did happen. That instead of one parent leaving her, it was two, but not in the way Korra made up in her frazzled mind. Rather they died and it was all her fault.

 

“I know, but still.” Asami said softly, the furrow in her brow still present.

 

“Yeah, I know,” Korra sighed as an employee set Asami’s cup of coffee onto the table in front of her. That single breath held more emotion than she intended, especially with the conflicting emotions in the dark corners of her mind.

 


 

Everything was molding together as expected. It was undoubtedly going to be a big surprise for Korra, but she needed it. He thought so, at any rate.

 

Postponing the stress that was nearly shoved into his hands, just to elicit a favorable reaction from her, was more than worth the unending revisions and resolutions he’d need to work on the following day. He’s already dreading the two mountains of paper waiting for him at home, but promptly shoves the thought away as he wanted to relax, to finish his errands before it barely strikes two.

 

The groceries were already wrapped up in the back seats of the car, and he was nearly done at the record shop. Just one more stop and everything would fall into place perfectly. He acknowledged he shouldn’t spoil her to this degree, even hearing the raspy voice of his brother in the back of his mind asking what he was doing, in amusement and seriousness, of course almost made his pause. If it was enough that the shadow of his brother noticed, that there was something brewing without his permission, he had unintentionally dug himself deeper into blue depths.

 

But he couldn’t help himself, primarily because of the sobs he heard from the night before. Witnessing that radiant smile of hers curving plump lips was as contagious as acquiring the flu. It was intoxicating, to say the least. He had to admonish the tiniest portion of his mind that revelled in alleviating her grief. It undeniably was not something in a familial manner, but something he would rather avoid thinking about. Instead of contemplating it further, he decidedly focused on the records in front of him.

 

Sifting through the vinyls, he spotted one that nearly brought him back to his teenage years. Something that he hasn’t visited in a long while. An album that had fleeting images splayed throughout a black background. Just the sight of it reminded him of the nights he spent locked up in his room, record playing the loud music steadily as he tried to block the incessant noise of his father banging on his door.

 

Grasping onto the thin vinyl, Tarrlok rubs a thumb over the smooth cover and roves pale blue eyes in thought. The memories that strung along with a particular song was what made chills prick his skin and pause, nearly making his blood grow cold. Jostling the thought away, he moved towards the cashier looking as bored as ever. He had an inkling Korra would appreciate the sluggish music, despite barely understanding the singer’s words. Even when he listened to the soft music years ago, he couldn’t decipher the lyrics, but resolutely took a fondness to the band nonetheless.

 

“Mr. Tarrlok! Another vinyl I’m assuming?” The girl with short hair and bright beryl eyes beamed as Tarrlok set the record onto the counter.

 

“Yes, another vinyl.” He responded, a polite smile lining his lips. Blindly reaching for his wallet, Tarrlok watched the young woman gaze at the cover, nodding her head in approval.

 

“Hmm, nice choice, I think she’ll love them.” He agreed with her wholeheartedly with a slight nod, his card already placed between his index and middle finger. “Since it’s your tenth purchase, you get a twenty percent discount.” She piped up, scanning the single item with a soft beep.

 

“That’s not necessary, but thanks, Opal.” He dismissed with a wave of his hand. Supporting local shops was something he took a particular liking to, predominantly more so if it lead to Korra’s happiness, he was more than content with spending the few extra bills.

 

“Pshh, don’t be so modest,” She giggled behind a shy hand. “Shady Shin loves you so it’s totally fine.” Opal dismissed, making a move to punch in the code for a discount, but hesitated, waiting for Tarrlok’s reply.

 

Shaking his head in amusement, a soft chuckle escaped his lips. “Don’t make it a habit to think Shin actually cherishes a duplicitous politician such as myself.” He says with a growing smile.

 

She rolls her eyes tiredly and shifts her weight from one foot to the other. “Oh, please, when he knows you bought something here, he will talk non-stop about you and your brother… It’s bizarre, but I get it. I mean I’d do the same with my friends.” Opal shrugged indifferently.

 

“We’re not friends,” Tarrlok hastily denies, all in jest, but if the word itself circulated and resulted in the very man’s ears, he would never hear the end of it. “I apologize for you having to put up with him… actually, in that case, give me the discount.” He conceded, noting the cheerful smile the young woman in front of him had.

 

Shady Shin. It truly has been a long period of time since he saw that man. Even if he frequented his record shop, the man was often huddled in his office or out in the city doing who-knows-what. He preferred not to know, especially with his particular fascination with gambling and sex. Tarrlok had no qualms with what the man did on his free time, and he had no ground to stand on to judge him, considering he indulged in similar activities occasionally as well. But he would rather be blissfully ignorant rather than have such knowledge on Shady Shin’s daily sexcapades.

 

When he reminisced, he had to conclude that his youth was filled to the brim with eventful experiences. Amusing, but destructive. Oddly enough, or maybe not so oddly enough, it was his brother who introduced Shady Shin to Tarrlok when they were in high school.

 

At the time, Shin was a senior, along with his brother, while Tarrlok was a freshman. He didn’t take a particular liking to the man at first, but over time Shin’s humor matched his brother’s, and Tarrlok even went as far as vaguely viewing him as an older brother. Or at least part of his family, but he knew no one should ever want to be apart of a family that was as broken as his own.

 

Without another second of contemplation, he resolutely paid particular attention in offering Opal a diplomatic smile before taking the paper bag from her grasp, moving away from the young woman with an uttered, thanks, Opal . It was not worth his time to muse over his misfortunes as a child and in his years as a teen. He was nearly forty and built himself from the ground, and yet the back of his mind is still perturbed, is still affected by the shadow of his father.

 


 

Checking her phone, she notices it’s already slowly approaching late into the afternoon. People came and gone, even the man with golden eyes left, but the establishment was almost filled with eager customers, waiting for their coffee fix. Among the chatter and clanging of dishes, the noise was getting unbearable to Korra’s throbbing temples. Well, at least they finished most of the homework. So much for staying a few hours. The whole day was wasted away at the cafe. Okay, not wasted, but it drained Korra nonetheless.

 

Asami slouched into the soft cushions, texting away with furrowed brows and focused viridian eyes, while Korra’s head fell to the armrest, her loose hair obscuring her face. Spirits, she just wanted to go home. To take a nap and rest her exhausted eyes. She reasoned she needed the few hours of sleep since the night before was evidently fruitless. At most, she must’ve scored three hours of sleep, but that did not bode well with her mind and body seeing that her dream was filled with a certain man.

 

It wouldn’t have been nearly as bad of a fitful sleep as it usually was, but she still held a grudge towards Mako. That simple, it sounds like you really love your dad , circled her brain more than a few hundred times. Even if it was a joke, even if it was just to get a reaction out of her, it still made her head spin at the implications laced in his voice that she would rather not ever think about. Yet, here she was, still thinking about it.

 

It was quiet between her and Asami. Maybe it was because the homework they were given nearly made them go crazy, or maybe it was just Korra too absorbed in her own thoughts, she did not know. She tried to convince herself that finishing most of their homework helped her calm frazzled nerves, or even giving her a distraction from the war in her mind, but it didn’t. If anything, the growing silence between the two only exacerbated the dangerous voice in the dark corners of her mind.

 

Now that they sat in silence, the awkwardness began to permeate between her and her raven-haired friend as Korra stared at the ceiling in thought, twirling the pen between her fingers unknowingly while Asami stared absently at the glowing screen of her phone, her thumbs making no motion for a conversation. She should go home. Tarrlok must be waiting for her since she didn’t text him to pick her up.

 

Glancing at her friend through soft, brown strands, she called her name softly.

 

Asami roved emerald eyes to lock with Korra’s and immediately understood what it meant. Taking a deep inhale, she sighed in fatigue and made a move to clean the table of her belongings and place them into her purse. Korra did the same, gathering their plates and trash onto the single tray, and tiredly sorted through them at the counter.

 

At least it was the weekend. At least she could sleep in and hopefully not cry, even though Korra knew it would inevitably happen once again, like it did every night.

 

—-

 

Waving a hand to Asami in a farewell, she watched her friend drive off from her parked spot in the gravel and waited until she disappeared behind the iron gates, down the small hill that Tarrlok’s estate was perched on. She twisted the key to the front door - Tarrlok decided to give her his key for the time being while he had one made for her - and opened the lock with a soft click. Stepping into the familiar house, she grasps the golden knob and closes it behind her carelessly as it snaps shut.

 

“Tarrlok! I’m home,” she called out, her mind on autopilot as she kicked her shoes to the corner where his laid perfectly on the marble tile. He'd probably scold her for haphazardly tossing her shoes out of habit, but it wouldn’t make a difference to her. She’ll end up wearing them one way or another, so what was the point in making them look presentable?

 

When he didn’t answer, she was slightly bewildered. Was he taking a nap or something? She figured he was considering the house was eerily quiet. Shaking her backpack loose from her shoulders, she let it fall to the ground with a thump, fingering the key in her hands as she waits for any sound of life. Instead, silence greets her and she sets the key onto the shiny table near his shoes.

 

Shouting his name again, Korra pauses and expects a snarky response. But it didn’t happen. What the hell? He was here, right? She thought back and recalled seeing his cherished car parked in the garage as it was wide open. She was about to cautiously walk the marble steps to his study, or maybe even his room, but immediately froze when she heard it.

 

Instantly, she thought it was an intruder, her body tensing and eyes widening at the sound of the door to the backyard opening and closing with a soft click. But it wasn’t that at all. Instead of the foreign footsteps of intruders approaching her, it was the soft taps of something excitedly running towards her voice.

Chapter Text

A fuzzy, white head peeked carefully from behind the threshold of the kitchen, and immediately it’s adorable face brightened in excitement. The white pup ran to Korra, nearly sliding to a stop to sniff curiously at her feet.

 

Korra fell to the floor to pet the soft fur of the pup, letting out an involuntary squeal at how cute she was. She ruffled her head while the puppy eagerly licked at Korra’s chin, laughing with mirth as vivid blues eyes cracked open and looked up to find Tarrlok leaning against the wall of the kitchen, strong arms folded across his broad chest, watching the scene unravel.

 

She’s speechless. Never in her life had someone spoiled her to the point of feeling like a princess. By all means, she had no intention to feel like one, but the three weeks living with the man across from her appeared as though it were inevitable to be treated as such. Other than him being her guardian, Korra didn’t know why he was doing this. In any case, she really did appreciate whatever he was doing, especially if it meant she could keep this cute ball of fluff squirming with enthusiasm.

 

“I… I don’t know what to say,” Korra says slowly, her eyes lock with his pale blue ones as her hand scratches at the pups fluffy scruff. The warm feeling is back and it only intensifies when she witnesses that usual smirk widen in something she can’t understand. It doesn’t help that his usually composed demeanor appears slightly off, similar to the way he was earlier that morning, only replacing the irritation with content.

 

“Well, a ‘thank you’ would suffice, but-” He began, but was soon interrupted by Korra’s petite yet strong body roughly colliding with his with an unprepared oof . Toned arms nearly squeezed the breath out of his lungs as they wrapped around his middle. She sensed the white pup follow her and paw at her legs, begging for attention as she laid her cheek on Tarrlok’s chest, the buttons on his shirt digging into her skin and the defined muscle underneath the fabric very apparent against her cheek.

 

“Thank you,” she says softly, lucid blue eyes flickering with warmth that wasn’t there thirty minutes ago.

 

“You’re welcome, sweetheart,” he says gently, wrapping his arms around her tinier form and pressing a light kiss to the top of her head. Immediately, a blush colors her cheeks at the subtle stirring in her lower abdomen. The devious thoughts returned and now that she was pressed against his front, she was acutely aware of every direct contact where their bodies met. It shouldn’t affect her this much, but it does. She can’t stop herself from actually liking the feel of his lips on her, or liking the way his sculpted body was pressed flushed against hers.

 

Attempting to distract herself, even though she knows it is fruitless, Korra looks up at him, easily meeting his eyes that swam with mischief. “You’re not letting that go, are you?”

 

“No,” he blurted, amusement laced in his smooth voice. Before it could get awkward, or she ends up staying in his arms longer than she intended to and does something she’ll regret, Korra pulls away from his embrace to bend down and tend to the cute pup.

 

“Well, thanks anyways, asshat .” She beamed, the smile evident in her voice as she deliberately hides her face from him with the curtain of her brown hair. She could feel him watching her. Whether it was in content or in irritation, she did not know. Not when the heat burned her cheeks in a healthy glow and the subtle thrumming coursed through her veins.

 

—-

 

The two of them were lounging on the soft material of the rug, playing with the white ball of fluff. The pup definitely had the personality similar to Korra’s, stubborn and headstrong. Even with it’s tiny body, she packed a powerful punch as she pounced back and forth from Korra to Tarrlok.

 

The atmosphere was lighthearted and the pup surprisingly distracted her from her inner turmoil. It was a nice feeling to be in the moment, to not feel the constant guilt about her parents, to not feel the recent confusion about Tarrlok. She glanced at him from the corner of her eyes. The man was lying on his side, propped on his elbow as his cheek rested in his hand, the other petting the soft fur of the animal. The faintest flickers of warmth crossed her eyes at how gentle Tarrlok was. It’s a stark contrast from what she perceived with the man.

 

Not that he didn’t have a soft side, but he always had the face that held seriousness and arrogance and duplicity that it was different to witness him so gentle towards something other than snarkiness and sarcasm.

 

The two must have exhausted the playful little thing out seeing as the pup laid on her side, mouth open, panting, and tongue flopping out, in between her and Tarrlok. Abruptly, it occurred to her that she doesn’t have a name. Well, she wasn’t aware that she did, at any rate.

 

Rolling on her side to face Tarrlok, she began petting the pup between them. Heat sparked under her skin when his fingers grazed hers as they both were giving the dog attention, immediately feeling the weight of his eyes flicker onto her once they made contact. “Any ideas on a name?” She feigned a yawn to mask her embarrassment, meeting his icy depths easily.

 

He seemed to ponder the question, gazing at the ball of white in thought. “Hmm… Akira?” Tarrlok suggested smoothly.

 

Korra considered it. Akira? It was a nice name for sure, but for some reason she didn’t think it suited her. “She doesn’t seem like an Akira,” she pursed plump lips.

 

It was quiet for a few moments, until he let out a soft hum. “Yuka?” He offered, glancing at Korra and waiting for her answer.

 

“That’s a bit contradicting since she’s anything but gentle, don’t you think?” She mentions, looking at him with a gleam of amusement in her blue eyes. Judging from the way the pup pounced back and forth, nearly head-butting Tarrlok in the lip, she was not a ‘gentle flower’ as the name would indicate.

 

He knew exactly what she was thinking about, and offered her a playful glare. “What do you think?”

 

Korra gazed at the pup in contemplation. “Well definitely not Yuka or Akira.” What did she look like? What name would match her ferocity and excitement? None of that ‘delicate flower’ bullshit. She needed a badass name. Names were fleeting past one another in her mind and she promptly remembered one that she wanted to name a pet that she never had when she was a child. “I like Naga,” she breathed and immediately the pup’s ears perk up at the name, looking at Korra with a smile on her face.

 

Tarrlok chuckles, gazing at the attentive dog between them in amusement. “Naga it is,” he agrees, running his hand over her soft fur.

 

“Hey, Naga! Welcome home, girl. You are too cute!” Korra’s face scrunches up at how adorable their new pup is, scratching at her fluffy cheeks while Naga looks back and forth between her and Tarrlok in innocent enthusiasm. Korra lies back down on the rug, pressing her cheek to the soft material and glances up at Tarrlok with curiosity. “How’d you find her?”

 

Pale blue depths regard her, but promptly a flash of mischief crossed his lowered eyes. “In the time you were with Miss Sato, I scoured through the wilderness and found a stray pup all alone, whimpering for help. Any man would be heartless to ignore such a cry for attention.” He said matter-of-factly.

 

Korra allows the tiniest of smirks curve her plump lips. “Hmm, and you consider yourself a man?” she bites back confidently as his smirk falls. It was a good feeling to know she could prod at his gilded self-assurance with the same venom he did to her on a regular basis. She did not want his ego to inflate too much, she doesn’t think she could handle that.

 

But just as the thought crossed her mind, his faltering smile perked back up in some hidden joke she did not understand. “Would you like me to show you?” That smooth voice of his lowered, sending a slight shiver at the double entendre.

 

She could already hear the blaring bells in her mind telling her to stop this flirting with the man, to stop the sparking the flames of these conflicting emotions.

 

“How could you show me when there’s nothing to see?” Korra challenged unintentionally.

 

The glare he sent her way was not lost on her. In fact, it compelled her to widen that satisfied smirk on her lips further as she watched him watching her.

 

“Did you kiss your mother with a mouth like that?” He snarled through gritted teeth, nearly making Korra let out an inappropriate bark of laughter. She couldn’t help herself from poking fun at the man, especially if he made it so damn easy. But almost immediately the glare disappeared and replaced it with one of amusement with the unvoiced game they only recently began playing.

 

Just like his glare, the smirk was effectively wiped from her face when his fingers deftly tucked the stray tendrils on her face behind her ear. “Actually I did, and she found it hilarious,” she swallowed anxiously, feeling the heat rush to her cheeks as he ran his long fingers through her hair, lightly scratching at her scalp.

 

A chill ran from her head down to her toes at the graze of his nails. Based off of how his hand stopped in favor of gently cupping her cheek, he must’ve noticed. “Somehow, I’m not as astonished as I thought I would be.” He said softly, barely above a whisper.

 

“Yeah, well it doesn’t make a difference now,” Korra breathed slowly. The tender way he was looking at her made Korra’s vision focus on only him. Spirits, he must have felt that electricity too hanging in the air judging from the way his eyes darkened the slightest bit. His thumb is rubbing circles over the heated skin of her cheeks and she swore to the spirits above that she would’ve melted into a puddle of mush if he wasn’t watching her as closely as he was at the moment.

 

The devious part of her mind was slowly emerging from it’s deep depths and she was never more aware of how close they were lying on the floor. Nearly a few scoots forward and her lips could catch his in what she assumed would be an exceptional kiss.

 

But then that infuriating smirk of his was starting to curve his lips and broke her of any spell she was under. Swallowing over the lump in her throat once more, she stuttered a, “I-I’m hungry,” before quickly glancing at Naga tiredly losing herself to sleep.

 

“You didn’t eat anything at the cafe?” He drawled, his voice lowering seductively, more than it already was, as his warm hand returned to Naga’s soft fluff. She shouldn’t be so affected by his stupid voice, but the way her risque thoughts revolved around the man less than a foot away from her only intensified the heat on her cheeks, shooting to her lower abdomen subtly.

 

“I did, but it wasn’t anything to fill me up. I mean, a bagel can only do so much.” Korra joked, as a way to distract herself, naturally. Abruptly, she sensed him move from his relaxed position next to her, to sitting upright with a sigh.

 

“Right… Fortunately for you, I have two other surprises,” he stood up, already moving to his satchel dangling helplessly on one of the chairs in the dining room with a smile much more genuine than the smug smirk her wore a few moments ago.

 

“Tarrlok, I think this tops the cake for surprises. You really don’t need to get me anything,” she tries to waver him, getting up to move to his side as he shuffles through a brown paper bag. It’s sweet what he’s doing, to spoil her rotten than she already is, but it really wasn’t necessary.

 

“I know, and it’s not as massive of a surprise as Naga, but…” He pulls out a vinyl and hands it to her. “I know you like music…” He adds gently, watching Korra closely for her reaction. He had already purchased a handful of records and each one she loves dearly.

 

Gazing at the fleeting images on the cover, she doesn’t know what to say. To say that she feels like a princess was an understatement. “Thanks,” she says simply, locking luminous blue eyes with his pale ones easily. The subtle thrumming from a minute ago returned and as they stood there frozen, watching one another, Korra’s eyes unintentionally flickered down to his lips. When she looks back into his eyes she finds a slight dilation in his pupils. Shit. He noticed.

 

Tarrlok cleared his throat. “Food,” he blurted awkwardly. “I’ll cook us something while you keep Naga company,” he says hastily, quickly making his way to the kitchen to leave Korra standing there with the record still in her grasp.

 


 

Tarrlok stood in front of the stove as heat radiated from the flames. One hand held chopsticks as a way to turn the frying shrimp while the other laid limply at his side. He sported the usual frilly apron his brother bought him for his birthday before everything happened so quickly… but he shouldn’t be thinking about the monstrosity that happened over a decade ago.

 

Instead, he focused on the loud music that was heard throughout the house as the vinyl he just recently purchased for her spun steadily on the turntable. He did not have any qualms with it. The volume of the music, that is, and he had to wonder if some of her habits were already rubbing onto him.

 

His gaze roved away from the sizzling tempura, over the cool marble counter, to the teenager sprawled out on the living room rug. There was a soft smile lining her lips as she cuddled with a sleeping Naga.

 

She intrigued him. Whether it was due to her contradicting nature or witnessing her vulnerability that she evidently held tightly behind closed doors, Tarrlok did not know. Maybe it was because he felt a kindred with her, that they both experienced pain and grief, with whatever happened with her family.

 

She must have felt his eyes on her in her peaceful state by the way she steadily met his with warmth in those vivid irises.

 

The loud music was ever present, but the song that nearly brought him back to his teenage years abruptly met his ears. Something about the way she gazed at him and the little smile the graced her plump lips, as well as the lethargic beats of the music, nearly threatened him to stride over to tilt her chin and… no, no, no. That was wildly inappropriate, in any case. Not at all what a thirty-seven year old man should do or think about doing to a teenager, and his adopted daughter no less, despite what his sex drive whispered to him.

 

Dragging his attention away from the young woman watching him with what he assumed was fascination, he flipped the few pieces of frying shrimp, sending tiny droplets of searing oil splattering onto the counter surface.

 

Tarrlok took a deep breath in. He never imagined obtaining this type of warmth and domesticity in his lifetime of tragedy and death. Clenching his jaw, Tarrlok adds the neatly sliced tofu into the soup set beside the tempura. He can’t stop himself from feeling gratification at the simplicity of having a family of his own, even if the new yet familiar sparks of heat brought about a vague bout of awkwardness between the two of them.

 

Despite the awkwardness, he sensed she was getting comfortable with her new home. Well, he presumed so, seeing as she received everything she wanted in life as well as the light teasing they prod at each other with. It was an unspoken game between the two of them, and he had no objections in indulging in a harmless ploy. But he had to reprimand himself at the thought of their light teasing. Continuously, he claimed it was light and friendly, but in reality, somewhere in the back of his mind, Tarrlok knew there were hidden messages woven together within their words.

 

Taking the last of the frying shrimp out of the pan, Tarrlok sets it in a porcelain dish and tends to the miso soup. His eyes inadvertently trailed back to the young woman. Instead of looking at him, her soft gaze returned to Naga curled up in a ball. Try as he might, he couldn’t tug his eyes away from her.

 

He had to ask himself, why her? He wasn’t so oblivious to not comprehend the meaning behind their stares, or the warmth behind their eyes, or even the delicate, lingering touches when they were so close to one another. Tarrlok understood, how could he not? He’s a man in his late thirties and clearly had been in the lovely company of women before.

 

But he knew it couldn’t and wouldn’t happen. Not just because of the consequences, but also because of the complications that would inevitably unravel with a taboo relationship. What in seven hells is wrong with him? Thinking about forming a relationship with her, in more than a familial manner. He already gave her a pup! What more in a few months, or even a few years, if the sparks of heat between them still resided?

 

Comes for pearly dewdrop’s drops… buys the pearly to their souls.

 

Luminous blue eyes fluttered away from Naga and back onto him. Immediately, Tarrlok tensed and tore his icy depths away and onto the soup that was nearly finished. His heart rate spiked as he felt the weight of her eyes on him, simply watching while he stirred the cloudy soup. He took a deep breath in once again and tried to focus on the soup.

 

Turning off the stove, he hears Korra move from her spot through the boisterous beats and promptly discovers her slender hand come up from his flank. She grabs ahold of the dish filled with tempura, along with two glass cups from the cupboard to his side. Just as he was attempting to gather his jumbled wits, she had to do this to his poor soul. He clenched his jaw when he felt her hip brush his as she reached for the cups, instantly observing the way her shirt rose a few inches to expose a sliver of tan skin he’d seen before.

 

While he’s still focused on the snippet of her midriff, she was already moving away from him, dish and glass cups in tow. Unconsciously, he abhorred the idea of her leaving his side, of her unknowingly leaving the blossoming flare of warmth on his thigh.

 

Abruptly, she stopped mid step in her trail to the dining table and glanced at him over her shoulder. A playful glint in her eyes promptly compelled the familiar heat to thrum through his veins in adrenaline. That is, until she uttered a breathy, you coming? , that dread nearly paled his features at her double entendre.

 

He was undoubtedly going to deteriorate with apprehension if this continued.

 


 

Korra was stuffed… And exhausted.

 

It didn’t help that the day felt longer than usual, or at least too slow for her liking. She had to silently weep at the lost opportunity to take a well-deserved nap. Not only did her eyes sting with the corresponding dryness, but her stomach was filled to the brim with delicious food that all she wanted to do was pass out on the couch with Naga on her stomach.

 

Just as it usually is, Tarrlok’s cooking continues to surprise her. Obviously in a good way, she reasons that the tempura and miso soup were prepared with perfection in mind, just like the day she moved in. Or he just naturally had an abundant skill in cooking.

 

When she thought about it, he seemed to have a variety of skills that were nearly mastered and perfected down to the tiniest details. Korra wondered how he had time to learn all these things with his busy schedule as a politician. Maybe he was an overachiever when he was a child? Or maybe he was a quick learner? She wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.

 

It was a nice evening. The heat from the day before practically melted away into the perfect transition from summer to autumn.

 

They stood side by side as they walked past the threshold of the west gate into the public garden - Tarrlok quietly holding Naga’s leash while Korra lost herself in wandering thoughts. Of course, she’s still thinking about it. It was still such a new feeling that Korra knew close to nothing about the subject. Liking someone? Growing attached to someone? Her only experience she had was with Howl, and with romance novels, but that was barely anything to go off about.

 

Unknowingly, she walked, wandering mindlessly with him beside her. The rhythmic footsteps of theirs mingling together with Naga’s soft taps. But from the corner of her eyes, Korra watched him. He seemed content, less stressed from earlier that morning or from the night before, but she could still sense the slight stiffness in his stride. She decided she’d rather not think about why he was so tense. It was better this way, in any case, when they were quiet, when they were lost in their own thoughts.

 

“It seems like it’ll rain soon,” his smooth voice breaks her thoughts. Immediately, vivid blue eyes flicker from him - who was already glancing up into the colored sky - to the dark, looming clouds slowly moving towards them. Although the sun was gradually dropping, those angry clouds did appear as though it were going to rain… most likely on them if they didn’t find shelter soon.

 

“Yeah, it does.” Korra says lamely. She mentally cursed herself at her blandness, biting her lip as her thoughts scatter to find something to fill the increasingly awkward silence.

 

Glancing back at the man beside her, Korra swallows nervously. The sinful idea of rain pouring down on them pops into her mind. The idea itself isn’t something she should get turned on by. But, she reasons, that getting drenched by rain isn’t her idea of fun, and most likely not Tarrlok’s either. He would probably get into a sour mood with the way his precious locks were doused in water, or the way Naga would be stripped of her newly bathed scent in favor of the typical wet-dog smell… or the way he’d have to trudge back through the garden with his clothes clinging to him uncomfortably.

 

Even though his mood would dampen, in the back of her mind, she did not see the problem in it. In fact, she imagined the arousing sight, the scenario playing out before her eyes and promptly felt the slight tingling of warmth underneath her skin.

 

She was lost in her small daydream, eyes glazed and lids lowered, seductively roving his physique, that she had yet to notice Tarrlok watching her with an indecipherable glint in his icy irises. So absorbed in imagining the man next to her with wet, disheveled clothes was she that Tarrlok had to lightly tug her closer to his warm body in order to avoid tripping on the root of an overgrown tree.

 

“Korra,” he says with amusement laced in his voice, a forming smirk lining his lips while his hand still lightly gripped her clothed bicep. They stopped walking down the path, but Korra did not partake in that observation. “Are you okay?”

 

Her thought process must have slowed to a snail’s crawl because it barely registered in her mind. Korra blinked, then slowly glanced down to his firm yet gentle grip on her arm and almost instantly the heat sparked to her cheeks. That sure woke her from that arousing daydream.

 

Jerking away from his grasp as if she were burned, Korra cleared her throat and squeaked out a, “Never better,” before continuing in their walk. She didn’t have to look over her shoulder to know that he was watching her intently, watching her every move. He undoubtedly would tease her, dangle it over her head with unspoken words. With what they have been doing, the two didn’t need words to understand the complexity and newly budding interest in one another.

 

A few moments of silence graced their ears, the constant footsteps and the occasional individual jogging past them break the muteness. Korra mumbled a soft curse to herself. Why did she have to make things so obvious? She acknowledges she doesn’t hold a specialty in subtlety, that much was obvious in the past, but she had to scold herself for blatantly staring at his stupid, shockingly fit body.

 

“You do know you’re going the wrong way, right, sweetheart?” He says sweetly, smugly.

 

Korra freezes in her stride, exaggeratedly glancing over her shoulder to meet his gleaming blue eyes. Unconsciously, a brow cocked. She folded strong arms across her ample chest and swiveled on her heel, sauntering over to his calm striding.

 

“I didn’t think there’s a wrong or right way through the garden, dad .” She tilted her head in an unspoken challenge.

 

“Well, there is if you don’t want to get submerged with water. That is up to you, though. I, personally, don’t mind the rain.” He mentioned. Once he caught up to her, she felt his free hand curl around her shoulder, bringing her closer to his side and unknowingly rubbing up and down. That deft hand, even though she barely could feel it through her clothes, warmed her upper arm and made her pause in thought.

 

But taking a peek at the man pressed to her side, his satisfied yet content smirk plastered on his handsome face, had her jabbing a finger into his ribs. “That is utter bullshit right there.” She teased with a slight shake of her head and a roll of her eyes in clear disbelief.

 

“And you have an impeccable vocabulary.” He scoffed in offense, all while squinting directly at her.

 

Korra couldn’t tell whether he was actually offended or not, but the sight of the tiniest of upward quirks on his thin lips evidently gave her the answer. “Fine…” Korra conceded with feigned dread. “But I don’t want to miss the sunset just finding this place.”

 

He chuckled softly, continuing to rub her shoulder gently. “Then we should hurry,” Tarrlok inexplicably hastens his pace, guiding her to follow him as Naga happily trots along the paved path with them.

 

—-

 

It was beautiful. Gorgeous. Enchanting, even.

 

Vibrant green trees and colorful flowers at their peak of blooming before the cold of autumn and winter come to dry them out. It was surprisingly more than she expected, more than she thought she would be interested in a garden. Yet the feeling of comfort and happiness only increased with each step she took towards the concrete shelter.

 

Despite the sprinkling of rain drizzling onto their hair, Korra couldn’t dwell on it because the sight alone was worth the beginnings of the late summer showers. They, mainly Tarrlok, found the notorious tea house the garden was known for. This was news to Korra, but she reasons that it was hidden from wandering eyes that she jogged past it many times before.

 

The traditional tea house was secluded, surrounded by enormous trees and a pond. Spirits, how did she miss this? She’d been in Republic City for less than a month, jogging here for three weeks, and yet she had been completely oblivious to the beauty in the garden.

 

Korra was in awe, slowing her pace to a crawl and drinking in the gorgeous view as Tarrlok and Naga moved ahead, already past the small bridge and on the gravel path towards the tea house. Although the sprinkling rain grew heavier through their walk, she could care less about getting wet.

 

Stopping in her stride, Korra glanced over the wood railing of the bridge and into the murky water of the pond. Rain droplets rippled on the surface while a colored variety of koi swam steadily in the water. In Korra’s mind, she was never more at peace with anything than she was at the moment.

 

Before, when it was revealed that she was adopted, she figured the city would calm her. The bustling of life was so constant that no matter where she was in the city, she would not truly be alone. That even when the sun has gone down and the moon rose high above them, the image of trains passing and the glow of the metropolis brought her tranquility. But simply watching koi swim beyond the surface of pond water and hearing the soft splashes of pouring rain made Korra freeze in wonder.

 

She would have been content there, just standing in the middle of the bridge and gazing at fish swimming with a childish glint that hasn’t been there for years in her luminous eyes, but Tarrlok’s pleasant voice breaks her from her thoughts. He calls her name, gesturing her over before she drenches herself with water and catches a cold, despite the slight warmth hanging in the air.

 

She can’t be mad at him though. The way he was watching her with warmth and tenderness nearly has the heat on her cheeks to intensify.

 

Tarrlok and Naga are already making their way up the concrete steps while she runs through the strengthening rain to catch up to them. Forming puddles splash against her clothed legs and promptly she feels as though she were a ten year old once again. She imagined her parents beside her as she kicked water high into the air. They’d giggle, watch her with amusement, but that was years ago. Something she couldn’t relive. She shouldn’t dwell upon the past, especially now that she had Tarrlok and Naga waiting for her.

 

Korra gradually made her way up the concrete steps and met Tarrlok casually leaning against the railing while Naga laid on the floor next to him. He looked over his shoulder and instantly allowed a smirk to curve his mouth.

 

“How’d you find this place?” She breathed in awe, running a hand through her wet locks and not at all caring that he looked more like a smug bastard than he usually does.

 

“I’ve lived here for a while, Korra.” He said matter-of-factly, reaching into his back pocket to pull out a pack of nearly empty cigarettes and a lighter.

 

“Well, no shit.” Korra rolled her eyes and crossed toned arms over her chest, promptly swaggering over to his relaxed form. She watched him place the cigarette between thin lips as he glanced back at her.

 

“Language, sweetheart,” he scolded before the switch of the lighter was heard. Instantly, the butt glowed orange as he inhaled, then the smoke that followed. Instead of watching him, she mimicked the man beside her and gazed at the garden distractedly.

 

It was silent again. The only sounds came from the rain showering over them and the few chirping birds hidden away in the trees. No one was in sight. It truly felt as though they were the only people alive and it only further heightened her focus on him. A damp, white button up that nearly hugged his defined body, rolled up sleeves that exposed his veiny forearms, disheveled hair that had moist droplets settle comfortably atop his head. She assumed he was lost in thought judging from his determined stare off into the pond below them, but he cleared his throat while a puff of smoke left his mouth.

 

“I purchased the estate precisely for this reason… It’s tranquil and harmonious. Something you cannot necessarily elicit in the city. Granted, there are numerous historical museums all throughout Republic City, but when you stand here, immersed with nature, you understand. Even though you don’t know what exactly you understand, you get a sense of wholeness and security.” He continued, tapping the stick in slow beats.

 

“Yeah, I know the feeling.” Korra mumbled, barely above a whisper. She bit her lip and watched the clouded sky transition from a shade if blue to orange.

 

“I presume you took a rather quick liking to the teahouse..?” He glanced at her from the corner of his eye, the hand not preoccupied with a lit cigarette pulls her close to him, just as he did earlier in their walk.

 

Although the touch is duly noted by Korra, she tries not to act fazed by it. More over, she doesn’t want to be fazed by it, but yet it still does. “Duh! I mean, sure it’s ancient, maybe even as old as you, and it looks like it’ll crumble to pieces if we move too much in here, but like you said, it’s peaceful.” She says, looking at his profile for any reaction as he brings the lit cigarette up to his mouth.

 

But there was nothing but focus in his pale blue eyes.

 

It was bizarre knowing that he did not furrow a brow in annoyance or his face did not scrunch in irritation at her quip about his age. Maybe he didn’t hear her? Maybe he pointedly decided to ignore the teasing? Or maybe he was getting used to their banter? Either way, she did not look too much into the subject because he takes a deep breath in, and unconsciously squeezes her upper arm with affection. “I know I say this a lot, but thanks.” She breathes and promptly makes luminous blue eyes slightly widen once he glances down at her, easily meeting her eyes with warmth.

 

The way he regarded her, the way his jaw clenched, it made her breathing hitch and heart rate increase.

 

“No need to thank me, sweetheart.” He says loud enough to be heard through the strengthening rain. She was about to respond, but immediately saw the subtle curve on his lips over the cigarette.

 

Korra broke the gaze and crossed her arms over her chest, unknowingly offering an enticing view to the man pressed to her side and bumped her hip against his playfully. “You know what I mean,” the amusement evident in her voice.

 

“I don’t think I do. Do tell what you’re so thankful for,” He tilted his head and quirked a brow upward. Of course, he was like this, especially now that he knows she likes what he has been doing. Leave it up to him to ruin such a nice moment with something cheesy or corny enough to make her roll her eyes to the spirits above. Korra sighed exaggeratedly and tried to pry his hand away from her arm, but it was futile. Not only did his grip slightly tighten, but it also fell to the hidden curve of her waist underneath her plain shirt.

 

Immediately she froze and ceased all attempts in annoying him. Rather she stood with scattered emotions and gave into the close contact, absently watching the rain fall heavily. It wasn’t as though she did not like it, it was the total opposite really. But she hated the fact that his warmth got her heart rate to spike with what she tried to dissociate with the man as excitement.

 

Too consumed in his hand clasped around her waist, she did not hear the chuckle leave his lips. Instead, she felt it against her side, saw the quick puff of smoke escape his relaxed form as she remained stubbornly silent.

 

“It’s considered impolite to not answer when someone is talking to you, Korra.” He prompted in a feigned chide, his usual teasing laced within his smooth voice. It was supposed to be all good fun, something that was typically overlooked, but she bit her lower lip to try to stifle the smile threatening to form at the hidden gibe.

 

“Shut up,” Korra blurts, her eyes fixated on the view before her as her focus shifts from the man to the sky. Although it wasn’t a total distraction from the newfound emotions of her supposedly new father figure, it was definitely an interruption to her frenzied yet pleasant thoughts. It was quiet for a moment, that is, until he scoffed in mild disbelief.

 

“Sweetheart, I’m a politician, we’re all about-” he started.

 

“Shhhhhh! Look,” Korra interrupted, waving off the undoubtedly long lecture she would inevitably hear once again, and pointed towards the sky. “It’s so beautiful,” she breathed inaudibly, unfolding crossed arms and leaned against the railing with a wistful expression on her face.

 

The cloudy sky changed from an orange similar to the flame of a fire, to a pink that resembled the sugary treat of cotton candy, to a purple identical to the orchids that settled attractively on her bedside table, and ultimately to the dark abyss of a typical night. The seamless transition was too flawless to miss. Even the rain that just a few moments ago was pouring heavily above them turned to a light drizzling that nearly dusted her heated cheeks.

 

Korra let out a dreamy sigh.

 

It was just them three immersed in the dark. The scent of smoke and fresh rain intoxicated her senses as she took a deep breath in. Somehow the scent alone calmed any remaining tenseness in her body that she did not notice the pleasant silence growing between them. Instead, she focused on the few branches that obscured her view from their secluded area in the garden. Droplets beaded atop the wood, atop the green leaves gradually progressing into a bright brown.

 

Gleaming blue eyes followed the beads of water drip continuously into the pond below them, the constant movement of the koi swimming unperturbed to the sprinkling rain.

 

For once in her life, Korra feels at peace with the amount of growth and history a simple garden can possess. Spirits, if her parents were still alive, she wouldn’t doubt that they would love the sheer immersion of nature. They’d probably have a family picnic once the cherry blossoms bloomed and the festivals roared in the spring. The thought brings a somber smile to her lips, unknowingly lying her cheek against Tarrlok’s bicep.

 

What could have been done was a lot different from what can be done. She tries to reason that she’s apart of a new family now, even if the family itself only consisted of her, Tarrlok, and Naga. As difficult as it was, and still is, she can already feel herself easing into happiness and content with the man beside her. Of course, the guilt and grief and numbness would never disappear, but she actually feels like living her life could be salvageable, that the constant feeling of worthlessness can finally diminish.

 

Closing dry eyes, Korra unconsciously snuggled into his warmth. She felt as though she were in a dream, as though she was fast asleep in the comfortable cocoon of her soft sheets. It was enough of a distraction that she was oblivious to the icy blue eyes watching her with a weakness that was unknowingly crumbling to pieces.

 


 

Despite the delicate wind rustling the leaves of trees and the short bout of rain, the night remained warm, but not overly so that the humidity made it nearly impossible to get comfortable. Once the rain stopped, Tarrlok made it a point that they should return to the estate, considering Korra laid her cheek on his bicep tiredly and he still had the two stacks of paper quietly waiting for him on his desk.

 

Although she seemed reluctant at the thought of leaving the garden, she acquiesced. He had to silently smile and pat himself on the back at such a good move.

 

As he sat on the couch - a thin piece of paper in his grasp and icy eyes hastily scanning the words typed onto the parchment - he still had to allow the slightest of smug smiles to curve his lips at a job well done. First, bringing Naga into their small family, then the vinyl and her favorite serving of tempura and miso soup, and finally the tea house he knew she had yet to witness for herself.

 

His eyes inadvertently trailed to her lying body beside him, her feet propped in his lap as his free hand gently massaged her ankle. From what he could gather, she was too preoccupied, too immersed with the movie playing in the background to notice his lingering gaze, or his soothing touch.

 

Tarrlok repeatedly scolded himself, admonished himself to pry his self-proclaimed lecherous eyes away from her and onto the papers waiting to be finished. These were important documents that needed special attention, that needed to be finished before Monday.

 

Yet he couldn’t for the life of him do such a simple task. She laid on her side, one hand cradling her cheek, while the other leisurely ran through Naga’s soft fur. He knew he shouldn’t ogle, shouldn’t openly stare at her with provocative thoughts clouding his mind, shouldn’t unconsciously massage her ankle to get a favorable reaction out of her.

 

No. Just focus on the papers.

 

Gathering his wits, Tarrlok takes a deep breath in and weaves his hand through disheveled hair before returning his attention to his unfinished work.

 

Well, that is, until the doorbell chimes and Naga instantly barks with the unmistakable energy of a pup.

 

Who in seven hells would be at their door at this time of night?

 

Nearly muttering a curse under his breath, Tarrlok gets up from his comfortable spot on the couch and dreadfully strides to the front door. Not caring who their visitor was, he swings the door open and immediately pales at the man waiting at the doorstep.

 

“Noatak.”

Chapter Text

“Noatak.”

 

“Brother,” Noatak smiled.

 

“Wha-what are you - how are you…” Tarrlok stuttered, attempting to grasp onto straws at the actual, physical form of the man before him. It’s been over a decade. Over a decade of not seeing his brother. Over a decade of attempting to forget the disaster that got him in jail in the first place. Spirits, this is not what he needed now.

 

A finger twitched when he felt his blood freeze. As much as he loved his brother, seeing the aged image of him standing on the ‘welcome’ mat did little to soothe his frenzied nerves.

 

“Isn’t it considered impolite to leave a guest out on the porch?” Noatak’s raspy voice broke him out of his reverie.

 

“R-right, come in.” Tarrlok muttered, furrowing brows and making room for his brother to walk in. All he could do was watch in astonishment that Noatak was here.

 

The last he saw him he had smoothed hair of a twenty-seven year old. A man that now had a few strands of grey woven into this harshly cut locks of a forty year old. His arctic eyes matched Tarrlok’s, but the prominent lines were etched on his face, a stark contrast to Tarrlok’s unblemished skin. He wore the same clothes he sported on that monstrosity of a night, and the sight of it sickened Tarrlok. It nearly sent a disgusted shiver through his body, but Noatak sighed audibly, propping large hands on his hips as his icy gaze roved the foyer.

 

“Wow, you really outdone yourself, brother.” He rasped with a hint of sarcasm as he strayed under the chandelier. The slight shift of Noatak’s eyes settled on Tarrlok and he tensed, his brow twitching in annoyance. He did not work from dirt all the way to wealth just to hear his brother’s snarky remarks.

 

Pinching the bridge of his nose and attempting to reel in his shortening patience, Tarrlok sighed and hastily snarled, “What are you doing here? How do you know where I live? Wha- Last I heard, you’re supposed to be locked in a jail cell.”

 

“Prison, actually.” Noatak corrected.

 

“Noatak,” Tarrlok hissed.

 

“Loosen up, brother. I’m here now, isn’t that what matters?” His sly demeanor fell and promptly made Tarrlok cautiously fold his arms across his broad chest.

 

“Not until I hear an explanation as to why exactly you are here.” Tarrlok whispered harshly. He didn’t want Korra to hear. Not yet, at any rate. He’ll deal with that atrocious conversation in the future, when the time comes for her to know. If there ever is a time for her to know.

 

“Some wealthy patron thought I was paramount enough to be saved from the shackles of prison. Don’t ask who bailed me out, because I’m as clueless about this as you.” Noatak says disinterestedly, icy irises gazing curiously at the paintings decorating the walls around them.

 

“Spirits…” Tarrlok groaned and ran a hand through his disheveled locks. Not only does Noatak’s bail bring a string of complicated implications, but only one man came to mind in regards to this particular situation. Tarrlok gripped his brother’s arm to get his attention. “You don’t think…?”

 

“I have my suspicions, but nothing has been confirmed yet,” he whispered seriously, but almost abruptly a sly smile curved his mouth and pried Tarrlok’s hand away from his arm. “Don’t look so startled, brother, it’s undoubtedly a foul expression. No need to frighten the kids.”

 

Kids? What kids? Tarrlok must’ve appeared utterly bewildered, or he must’ve been too preoccupied with the knowledge that his brother was standing in front of him with the implication that someone wanted him to come back into the real world, rather than rot away in a prison cell. “Kids?”

 

“I didn’t think your psychomotor skills already deteriorated now that you’re a member of the council. You’re only, what, thirty-seven, dear brother? Are they already wearing you down?” Noatak teased, the smile still plastered on his lips.

 

“Politician,” Tarrlok corrected. “And what in all hells are you talking about?” He hissed quietly, genuinely confused.

 

As he gazed at his brother with a scrunched face, Noatak gave Tarrlok a really, brother? look. “Don’t think I was so ignorant to not keep up with the news, brother. I heard from a little birdy that you took a child under your wing…“ It was neither a statement nor a question, Tarrlok observed. Something that seeked confirmation or not.

 

“We can talk about that later, but for now, we need to discuss you being here.” Tarrlok tensed uneasily.

 


 

Korra could hear whispered snarls from the foyer. She tried to stretch her ears so she could hear the conversation, but whomever Tarrlok was talking to, he deliberately did not want her to hear. But that only made her more curious as to who and what the two were talking about.

 

Korra being Korra, she reached for the remote, turning down the volume, but still could only listen to the inaudible hushed whispers. Glancing down at the alerted pup beside her, she gently ran her fingers through Naga’s soft fur in reassurance. Korra’s companion shook with excitement as she focused her attention in the direction of the whispered hisses.

 

Biting her lower lip, she decidedly and silently stood from the soft cushions of the sofa. She quietly padded her way to the wall and glanced into the vast room Tarrlok was in.

 

There was another man.

 

He stood an inch or two taller than Tarrlok, evidently older than her supposed father judging from the grey strands that sprinkled his dark brown hair. He had the same pale blue eyes as Tarrlok and curiosity compelled her to edge forward further. The man wore wrinkled clothes that appeared dated, something akin to what her actual father would wear when she was in preschool or kindergarten, but more disheveled, more seductive in a dangerous way.

 

Just as she was unconsciously tilting her head to get a better view of the man, unfamiliar icy irises glanced over Tarrlok’s shoulder and onto her slightly hidden form.

 

Korra immediately tensed, heat rushing to her cheeks and an indecipherable sound croaking from her throat as eyes widened at the grotesque smile the man possessed.

 

“Well, well, well. I didn’t know you had impeccable taste in women, Tarrlok.” The man said slyly. The dark flicker in his blue eyes did not ease her uncomfortable nerves as he watched her. Korra’s brows furrowed and bristled at the insinuation. As much as the thought warms her lower abdomen, she can’t for the life of her figure out why so many people think she formed some sort of romantic relationship with Tarrlok. Was it that obvious that something was surely brewing between them?

Korra stepped from behind the wall and stomped her way towards the two men, stopping at Tarrlok’s side and almost prodding a finger in the man’s chest. “I’m not-“

 

“-She’s my daughter, brother.” Tarrlok interrupted with a hand on her shoulder before she did something she’d regret.

 

“Daughter, huh?” Korra felt an uneasy shiver run through her body as the man, supposedly Tarrlok’s brother, blatantly eyed her. Spirits, they were undoubtedly related, the same infuriating smirk and the same lowered lids. Except when Tarrlok looks at her in such a way, something in her tingles, something puts her in a trance of pale blue fire. “I’m Noatak, your dear father’s brother, although many people call me Amon… And what’s your name, cupcake?”

 

“Korra,” she blurted, unimpressed.

 

“Korra… that’s a nice name. Is this your doing, brother?” Noatak glances at Tarrlok and points an interested finger towards her.

 

“Noa-“ Tarrlok starts.

 

“-He adopted me,” Korra interrupts. The very thought of being Tarrlok’s real daughter and possessing such absurd feelings towards him leaves her repulsed. In no way would she ever feel those confusing emotions towards her real father.

 

He made a sound in the back of his throat. “So, it is true.” He folds his arms across his chest, tilting his head up as he glanced back at Tarrlok as if waiting for an explanation.

 

“How did you know?” Tarrlok asked curiously. Korra watched the two practically disregard her presence as they continued to talk.

 

“Like I said, a little birdy tells me some things that the press cannot get ahold of.” Noatak shrugs nonchalantly.

 

“That’s unnerving,” Tarrlok uttered under his breath, promptly making Korra bite her lip to stifle an inappropriate laugh and glanced at his profile.

 

—-

 

It’s been hours. Almost four to be exact. Midnight was slowly approaching and Korra sank into her chair tiredly.

 

All three of them sat at the dining table, Naga curled in a ball between her and Tarrlok’s feet. A bottle of nearly finished wine and whiskey sat on the tabletop in front of the two brothers. Of course she wanted to try the bitterness of alcohol. She wanted to feel it intoxicate her senses, like it did with the brothers, but she knew Tarrlok would never allow her, even in his state of intoxication. He’d probably give her that long talk about underaged drinking, how it was against the law, basically being the sourpuss he usually is. Korra bit her lip, lamely sipping at her water all while staring longingly at the remaining cup of wine in Tarrlok’s glass and soothingly petting Naga with her foot.

 

At first, she listened to them exchange stories from the past thirteen years they were separated, but she soon grew bored and would rather retire to her bedroom and let the darkness of sleep take her. She pointedly wanted to do just that hours ago, standing to make her way to the comfort of her lavished bed, but Noatak, rather shamelessly, insisted she stay with them.

 

Nearly groaning at the attention on her, Korra glanced at Tarrlok for help. He quirked his brow and mouthed a, just for a little , and dreadfully acquiesced with a not-so-discreet roll of her eyes, immediately taking her seat once again. It’s not that she didn’t want to spend this ‘quality time’ with Tarrlok, or someone that he’s related to, but the day was eventful, filled with surprises and that opportunity of a nap she desperately wanted while she was at the cafe was long gone.

 

Her attention continuously swayed back and forth from their conversation to plotting ways in stopping such illogical emotions from growing. As the two spoke, she observed them quietly. Noatak was a relaxed slump in his chair and Tarrlok was nearly as peaceful as his brother, but the stiffness in his tense muscles were not lost on her. That’s weird. Korra shrugged it off, chalking it up to his precious papers that remained barely touched on the coffee table.

 

Tarrlok spoke of stories from being a ‘politician’ and the adventures he had when traveling abroad, while Noatak or Amon or whatever he’s called told of stories in prison.

 

It was oddly morbid, but considerably interesting to know that the prison shared similar characteristics to the orphanage. The two shared deep conversations and boisterous laughs together as they reminisced, a stark contrast from their reunion hours ago. But it did not make Korra feel less like an outsider watching the two men bond as if they weren’t separated for thirteen years.

 

She acknowledges it’s petty and childish of her to think in such a way, but witnessing Tarrlok bond with his older brother produces a green streak of jealousy. She reasons that she has Naga now, and Tarrlok, but she knows she won’t ever feel the warm companionship of a sibling. Well, that is, if Tarrlok decided to settle down with a lady friend and start making babies, but that only makes her stomach churn with disgust.

 

At one point, the conversation shifted to her, and Korra never felt so uncomfortable in her life. Spirits, if felt as though there were two Tarrlok’s in the room - one with the snark and who consistently clouded her mind whether she wanted to or not, and the other, somewhat more indifferent and older, but held a greater sense of humor than the wet blanket she was used to.

 

Noatak asked her of her previous family and she nearly paled at the direction of the conversation. She hasn’t even talked about it with Tarrlok, her father figure, and she doesn’t know if she ever will. What more for her ‘uncle’ that was still practically a stranger?

 

As he waited for an answer, Korra glanced at the oddly quiet Tarrlok across from her. He must have had some feeling of remorse because he easily and deftly shifted the conversation away from her to Noatak. It must have been those years schmoozing to higher authorities and dealing with the press that made it so easy for him to shift the attention.

 

But as the night wore on, and the alcohol filtered through their body, Korra didn’t know how to feel about her so-called uncle. He was creepy, similar to Tarrlok, but he was undoubtedly hilarious. At times he was a blatant asshole, but she figured that that was what came with his rather bizarre charm.

 

Here she was, watching two brothers bond more than she could ever do with Tarrlok alone.

 

This is what it boiled down to. She wanted to shake her head at her lameness. Spirits, she’s a teenager, why is she dwelling on the brotherly relationship of two grown men and the intoxication of alcohol? Korra stuffed her mouth with salty, greasy chips and instantly froze when she glanced up to find Tarrlok watching her curiously. She would have guessed she looked undignified, but the look he gave her made her think otherwise.

 

Half-lidded eyes promptly stirred the warmth in her to spark to her cheeks and effectively wiped her train of thought. While under his intense scrutiny, she swallowed the chips nervously, her mouth suddenly going dry. Her eyes flicked to Noatak who was mumbling a story that neither one of them seemed to listen to.

 

When she glanced back to Tarrlok, he was reaching for the last of the wine in the green tinted bottle, pouring the red liquid into his glass. She was about to grasp onto another chip, when suddenly, the man in front of her slid the glass to her.

 

There was a hint of dark heat laced through his intoxication in those pale blue eyes. It made her heart race faster and her cheeks burn fiercely. Grasping onto the cool glass, Korra brought her lips to the rim, her gaze still locked with his in slight challenge.

 

Over the glass, she could see his jaw clench enticingly. Was he getting turned on by this? She definitely knew she was. How did this of all things turn her on? Was it because they were secretly doing such things in front of another set of eyes? Or was it the way he looked at her? To the spirits above, they were doing this right in front of his brother. Granted, he was a little too absorbed in his story to notice what the two of them were doing, but it still produced a thrill that ran up her spine… Or was that the bitterness of the wine?

 

Korra couldn’t think straight, not when his half-lidded gaze was fixated on her, and not when the unfamiliar sting of alcohol slid down her throat. She managed a few gulps of the red beverage before gently pushing it back to Tarrlok in challenge. He finished the wine easily, slumping against the chair and stretching long limbs that rested against hers.

 

She normally wouldn’t think too much into their grazes of skin, like the subtle touch of their legs underneath the table, but the way he was watching her, something akin to a beast circling its prey, waiting for their next move, it nearly made her heart beat out of her chest.

 

It didn’t help that his finger tapped against the glass in a slow, unspoken rhythm, that his jaw clenched in a tension she barely understood. Or maybe she only recently began to understand.

 

—-

 

The scent of cinnamon wafted through the air vents and the blinding rays of sunlight filtered through her curtains. Korra squinted as she blearily scans her room and promptly heard her stomach growl in hunger, having no doubt that Tarrlok was already slaving away at the stove.

 

Tarrlok. Noatak.

 

She silently prays she doesn’t see them together so abruptly. It does not disgust her, moreso it brings a bout of jealousy… and a waterfall of tears from the night before. Even if Tarrlok had a past he was not ready to divulge to her, just like she to him, he still had Noatak, while she had no one. Just the sight of the two brothers the night before produced salty tears that puffed her eyes and stained her cheeks. Korra constantly gazed at the ring on her nightstand, quietly begging for her parents to come back, but she knew it was futile.

 

It’s enough jealousy mixed with her regular dissociation that makes her groan, stretching tired muscles and swinging her bare legs to the side of the mattress. Her mind goes through her morning routine like second nature as sleep still clings to her.

 

She grasps onto her discarded clothes in a heap on the floor and deftly slides into them. She makes her way to the bathroom and cleans her face of the dried tears and filth that she accumulates. Then, she brushes her tangled mass of hair impatiently, already feeling another growl in her stomach waiting to erupt.

 

Korra hoped food was waiting for her on the table, so she could avoid the brothers, as she made her way down the cool steps of marble, but once she caught a glance of the kitchen, she slouched in defeat. Not only was food not waiting for her, but Tarrlok instantly saw her enter. Meaning she’d have to help out.

 

By the spirits, how does he not have a hangover?

 

Instead of an excited pup greeting her, it was Tarrlok. Not that it was a problem, but she wanted to be reminded of warmth at the moment, not with sarcasm.

 

“You look haggard.” He said stiffly, flipping a slice of bread on the pan as Korra made her way to his side.

 

“Mornin, creep.” Korra ignored his observation with a grunt, attempting to stifle a yawn. She watched him for any reaction from the corner of her eye, but nothing happened. He appeared lost in his own thoughts and she decidedly began the process of cooking french toast, letting him figure out whatever it was he was thinking of so intently.

 

It was quiet between them, the sizzling of food cooking the only sound that graced their ears. She grasped onto the slices of bread and dipped them into the mixture of egg yolks and cinnamon on each side of the slices.

 

Each slice that was ready to be cooked were placed on a plate. She was about to give him the plate, but instead, he reached around her side and grabbed a few slices, his arm grazing hers.

 

Korra bit her tongue, not wanting to say something stupid and tried to distract herself with finishing up the loaf of bread. But as it typically was, it was very difficult in distracting herself when every few seconds or so his arm would accidentally touch hers or his elbow would lightly bump her arm. Whenever he grasped onto the bread, Korra swore she could feel the heat of his body near her, but maybe she was paranoid.

 

Finished with the plate, she moved closer to his side and offered the slices of bread.

 

One large hand grasped onto the spatula, while the other snaked to her opposite arm. Her breath caught in her throat as he pulled her closer to his side once again, whispering a stiff thanks before pressing a kiss to her temple.

 

She swallowed over the lump in her throat as his thumb unconsciously drew circles over her sleeve, reveling in the heat that spread from where his lips met her skin. But it was short-lived, broken abruptly once she heard Noatak’s raspy voice break the deafening silence.

 

“Aww, would you look at that,” Noatak cooed as he strode in, stopping at the counter to lean on its surface and watched the two regard him with the same vexed expression.

 

“Not now, Noatak.” Tarrlok groaned. Korra inadvertently felt his hand squeeze her arm harder in what she guessed was annoyance. Well, it’s good to know that even the perfectly groomed politician beside her and the man leaning on the counter could act like any other sibling, even at their age.

 

“C’mon, I mean, baby brother Tarrlok cooking a meal and his daughter helping her dear father. You two make the perfect little family,” Noatak shook his head as he teased them. Korra felt her face heat further, undoubtedly making her glow with a fresh rosy blush. “Aren’t I right, cupcake?”

 

“I’m not answering that,” She says disinterestedly, or at least tries to sound disinterested, lest she digs herself a bigger hole than the huge crater she already made. She wanted to smack herself, namely the voice in the back of her mind that almost emerged. Definitely not time to hear that annoying thing, especially with Noatak watching her like a hawk and Tarrlok pressed against her the way he is.

 

But then she hears a raspy chuckle escape his throat. “No need, cupcake. Your blush tells me all that I need to know.”

 

“I’m not blushing!” Korra yelped, nearly pawing at her cheeks in irritation, but Tarrlok intercepted, his fingers twitching on her toned bicep. No way in hell was she ever admitting that, especially with the two brothers in her vicinity.

 

“Brother, it’s too early for your jesting.” Tarrlok sighed, flipping the last of the french toast on the pan with a small sizzle. The heat from the fire did little to cool her red cheeks.

 

“Who said I was jesting?” Even though she wasn’t directly looking at Noatak, she could hear the amusement in his voice clearly. She could hear it miles away, and evidently was not lost on Tarrlok either judging by the way his large hand unconsciously tightened further on her arm.

 

Tarrlok growled and Korra bit her lip at the inappropriate laugh that threatened to spill from her lips… Well, and the fact that a dopey smile nearly etched itself on her face at being pressed against him this way. It felt nice. More than nice, and she hates that he’s making her feel such absurd emotions that she only read about in cheesy romance novels.

 

“Would you be a useful brother and pour us some coffee?” He grunts in irritation and interrupts her train of thought. Well, that surely helped stop that torturous voice from emerging, as if it needed any coaxing from her anyways.

 

“So demanding. I think being a councilman changed you.” The amusement still did not diminish in Noatak’s voice, only to have Tarrlok turn and face his brother with a vexed expression, and to have his hands propped on his hips sassily, spatula still in his grip.

 

“Politician,” Korra and Tarrlok corrected in unison, which prompted both of them to glance at each other with narrowed eyes. Spirits, what were they, ten year olds? She was half expecting to stick her tongue out, but immediately thought against it, especially with her hormones and what happened the night before.

 

“Right,” Noatak dismisses, clearly in disbelief.

 

“Anyway, any of you old farts want some fruit? Personally, I think you guys need the nutrients knowing both of you are almost in a wheelchair.” Korra quips while making her way to the sink to wash her slimy hands.

 

“I’m not old,” Tarrlok adds defensively, appearing as if he was collecting the patience that he blatantly let go of a fraction of a second ago.

 

With a low chuckle, Noatak mutters in passing, “Don’t listen to him, kiddo. He’s old. Just cut up some kiwis for both of us.” He moves to the coffee maker and pours the dark liquid in the mugs before him while Korra could feel a laugh bubble up in her throat.

 

“Speak for yourself, brother. You’re older than me.” Tarrlok bites back, flipping the last of the bread rather harshly, before whispering a sheepish, “...But, yes, kiwis.”

 

Korra rolls her eyes, already sauntering to the refrigerator and grasping the container of kiwis and peaches. Some fruit wouldn’t hurt anyone.

 


 

~Omake~

 

He truly did not know what to feel when she sank white teeth into a juicy peach. The fruit so saturated with its sweet liquid that it dribbed from the corner of her mouth and languidly down to her chin.

 

Spirits, he was all too aware that his heart rate spiked, that his grip tightened on the fork in his hand. She doesn’t appear as though she was doing it deliberately. But whether it was intentional or not, it did not stop the erotic thoughts from fleeting through his mind, specifically one that had him on his back, grasping her soft locks as she attempted to swallow-

 

Stop this madness!

 

It is a natural reaction, he reasons. He’s been too tense and stressed with work and Noatak that the mere sight of something so unconsciously suggestive got him in a frenzy.

 

Distractedly, he chews the last of the sweet morsels in his mouth, watching Korra in fascination and hooded lids. In a dazed state, he felt as though he could watch her eat the pink fruit in her grasp, while conversing with whom he presumed was Miss Sato, for a long period of time.

 

That is, until he heard Noatak clear his throat beside him and Tarrlok glanced at him curiously. The amused yet shocked glint in his eyes and the knowing smirk immediately pulled Tarrlok away from any lewd thoughts that his perverse mind created and continued eating his french toast, blatantly ignoring Noatak’s gaze.

 


 

It had been relatively the same for the past handful of days. The two brothers teased and bickered with one another, and all Korra could do was watch in intrigue and growing sadness. Well, that is, when Noatak was home.

 

She could feel herself drifting further into what she experienced in the orphanage. The usual loneliness and somewhat numbing sensation that made everything she did without any real care or emotion. It wasn’t the fact that they were brothers that got to Korra. It was more of the fact of their easy bonding and the reality of her situation, that she could never truly experience the bickering and teasing of a sibling.

 

This only further deepened her guilt and heartache of losing her family at a young age. She hates it when she feels like this and she couldn’t do anything to alleviate the pain. Any form of relief was only temporary. Nothing could take back what she did and the constant sight of Tarrlok and Noatak together, being civil with one another, it breaks her heart that she could never form a bond akin to theirs.

 

Even in the short amount of time Noatak settled with them, she acknowledged she was getting into her old habits, habits that formed throughout five disastrous years. She felt herself crawling into her shell, isolating herself from her new family, crying herself to sleep while Naga offered her comfort with worried eyes.

 

Korra tried to pretend everything was fine, tried to keep her sadness hidden from their icy blue eyes, but even her below par acting skills faltered when Tarrlok’s attention immediately shifts from her to his beloved brother.

 

She hated feeling needy, hated the feeling of being pushed to the back, hated the feeling of jealousy, no matter how small the green streak of emotion was. She was so much better than this. But as the days passed, she took it upon herself to distract herself and noticed the increased tautness in his body when Noatak walked in the room, resolutely keeping her mouth shut. It might just be nothing, but she duly noted it.

 

Tarrlok worked himself to exhaustion, like usual, but even moreso judging by his tense muscles and bloodshot eyes. He took his habit of smoking to another level with the way he consistently had a pack of cigarettes open within his vicinity. Korra didn’t mind it in the least. Quite the opposite really, it fascinated her. It was the complete opposite of what she had been feeling throughout the week. But what fascinated her even more was when Asami took her home the day before and, instead of finding Tarrlok gone or working, he was performing pull ups on the branch of a tree.

 

Naga was outside with him, chasing a butterfly to be exact, while Noatak was out in the city doing who-knows-what. She was finally home alone with him after what felt like too long and promptly made her mood perk up. The door to his precious garden was open, motivating her to lean against the frame with her arms folded across her chest.

 

She remembered having her luminous blue eyes rove over his physique, form-fitting clothes that had her vision to tunnel. She would have continued simply watching him exercise, watching his muscles flex, but abruptly the cheery tune of her phone went off as Asami called her.

 

At that moment, her heart nearly stopped, scrambling through her backpack as he looked over his shoulder towards the music. When she finally grabbed ahold of her phone, answering it as calmly as she could, Tarrlok dropped from the branch and strode over to her. He stopped a few inches from her - breathing slightly ragged, sweat beading at his temples, hair disheveled - and she tried to listen to what Asami was saying. Her breathing and heart rate increased, eyes lingering on his forearms while he towered over her as she croaked a goodbye. Apparently she forgot her textbooks in Asami’s car.

 

Besides their little fumble the day before, the feeling of isolation returned. Korra felt herself distancing from the two brothers. Albeit, it has only been a handful of days since Noatak came around, but the vague feeling of dejection crept in her veins. She knew it well with her time spent in the orphanage. Most of the time she kept to herself, leaving the brothers to their own devices as she simply watched and observed like an outsider.

 

Although it was more or less the same as how it had been before Noatak moved in, when it was just them in the estate, that is, the atmosphere almost instantly changes when Noatak strode in. When she was in their presence, they’d whisper or mumble something they evidently did not want her to hear. When that was the case, she shifted her attention to Naga.

 

She could feel herself slipping from Tarrlok’s attention. And even if they shared a few moments together, it was different now that Noatak settled in. Whether it was for a few weeks or maybe even months, Korra did not know.

 

Tarrlok must have noticed her subtle change in attitude by the way he spontaneously asked her to accompany him to dinner.

 

Thankfully, she was still in the clothes she wore to school - a sooty turtleneck and matching high-waisted jeans, a black leather belt cinching her waist with identical shoes covering her feet, while her hair was swept into a high ponytail - a small mercy on her part, naturally.

 

He took her to the same quirky rotary, just as he did the first week she arrived. She remembered hearing Noatak’s sputtering as she tied the laces of her shoes, while Tarrlok insisted it would be a ‘father-daughter night’. At the time, Korra had been confused, considering they never had a father-daughter night, but she went along with his ploy without questions. It seemed too much of a task to even ask, especially when he was stubborn and determined.

 

The restaurant was packed when they arrived. Normally something as irrelevant as that wouldn’t faze her, but it only further dampened her mood. Fortunately, the seats they were given were near the back end of the establishment, that it was somewhat quiet, well, less clamorous as it was near the front, in any case.

 

Korra watched Tarrlok eat his bowl of ramen and side of sashimi, while she picked at her roll of spicy tuna. Spirits, she knew she should be having a fun time, especially since it was just the two of them, but there had been no conversation, just the incessant sound of metal chopsticks tapping against plates. She doesn’t know if she could stand another second of the deafening silence.

 

Abruptly, she saw his bowl of ramen slide into her field of vision. Korra glanced at him in curiosity as he held a mouthful of noodles between the chopsticks in offering. Cautiously, she swallowed the last bit of spicy tuna in her mouth before edging forward and slurping the noodles he presented.

 

They spent some time there, silently enjoying each others company. Korra slumped back into the chair, flicking through the dessert menu on the small screen, while Tarrlok stretched long limbs underneath the table, an arm lazily draping around the back of her chair and his hand distractedly playing with the tendrils framing her face.

 

Korra was all too aware of what he was doing. She tried to immerse herself in the bright screen of images filled with ice cream and sponge cakes as if she were going to order the sweet pastry.

 

The weight of his eyes were sensed and she nearly applauded at her willpower in resisting a glance at him.

 

“Ready?” He asked.

 

Korra nodded, not trusting herself to speak.

 

She assumed they would go home soon after, considering he’d been exceptionally busy with work, but Tarrlok seemed to have other plans in mind. Instead, he drove them to the center of the city without saying a word. What in all hell?

 

When he parked near the curb, vivid blue eyes scanned the unfamiliar area. She thought that this would be their destination, but, again, she was wrong. Rather, they had to walk the rest of the way. His strong arm draped over her shoulders as they strode towards who-knows-where. The scent of vanilla and tobacco wafting over her form from the light coat he wore, sending a small shiver down her spine.

 

How they remained silent baffled her. She was nearly at her limit, unable to take the gnawing muteness between them any longer, when they were finally in view of what she assumed was their final destination.

 

Glancing at him in disbelief and confusion, noting the self-assured smirk already plastered on his lips, she mutters a, “You’re taking me to Harmony Tower?”

 

“Indeed, I am.” He chuckled.

 

“Why?” She asks, genuinely confused. She really had no idea why he was taking her there of all places, but she wasn’t complaining, especially now that they said more than a few words to each other.

 

“I need a reason to wander through Republic City with my daughter?” He glances down into her eyes, a flicker of something indecipherable crosses his expression.

 

Oddly enough, she couldn’t give him an answer. She simply gaped at Tarrlok as they strode closer and closer to the tower. She probably looked like an idiot with her mouth open and widened eyes, all while unconsciously walking in syncrony to the man pressed against her side, judging from the chuckle that escaped his lips.

 

Gazing back at the path towards Harmony Tower, Korra nearly smacked herself in the face. She hated the fact that she loved what he was doing.

 

—-

 

The tower was surprisingly empty. Well, except for the employees and the few scattered patrons that visited the attraction. From the ground it did not seem so tall, but as the were lifted to nearly fifteen hundred feet high, the glass beneath their feet, instantly got her heart racing. Don’t get her wrong, Korra loves the rush of adrenaline like any teenager would, but the layer of glass had her fearing they’d pummel into a lump of meat and blood at the bottom of the tower.

 

She had to shrug off her concerns. It wouldn’t be proudly standing in the heart of the city if it was prone to shatters, she reasons.

 

It was nearly eight, and by this time, the warmth of the sun passed below the mountains and the full moon shone high above them, bringing along the transitioning chill of fall. Even moreso, considering they were higher in altitude. It was a cloudless night, and as Korra grasped onto the cool railing, she dropped her jaw in awe.

 

The city below them twinkled with warm lights as shops were open twenty-four hours, cars and trains passed by hastily, people immersed in their own lives. It was oddly calming watching the metropolis continue like nothing was wrong. A tiny smile lines her lips in what she perceived was content.

 

When Korra was informed she’d move to Republic City, she did not know how to feel. Of course she was eager - moving to a whole different city, finally getting adopted after being pushed to the back for so long, new experiences, albeit with caution - but she couldn’t decide whether her excitement rooted from actually being adopted or simply escaping the hell that is the orphanage.

 

Whatever it was, it didn’t matter. Neither was the plethora of problems that continuously followed in her shadow. Standing there, fifteen hundred feet above the ground with Tarrlok alongside her, merely watching thousands, maybe even millions of lives unknowingly pass before their eyes, she truly felt at home.

 

It’s undoubtedly different from the garden, but the same emotions well up in her body that she’s overwhelmed with content and peace and security, something she couldn’t say with the few days that Noatak moved in.

 

“It’s so beautiful up here,” Korra sighed in amazement, slightly tilting her head to the side. Tarrlok stood beside her, leaning against the railing. Although they weren’t touching, he was close enough that she felt the heat radiating from his body onto hers. It was a constant reminder that she wasn’t alone, well another reminder besides her mother’s ring that settled on her index finger.

 

“It is,” he says almost inaudibly. From the corner of her eyes, she could see his gaze stray from the glowing city below them to her profile, eying her body, but not in a sexual manner. Just merely observing. “You look cold.” He notes.

 

It was cold. There was no denying that. But she tries not to act fazed by it, and instead turns to easily meet Tarrlok’s arctic eyes gleaming with something akin to mirth.

 

“What made you guess?” She asks. By the way she was covered with fabric, he really must be a wizard, definitely not in appearance, but he undoubtedly had the intelligence of one.

 

It was then that his trademark smirk lined thin lips. “Well, besides the obvious body language, there is the fact that you’re wearing a thin turtleneck.” He drawls vaguely.

 

Her brows furrowed as she did not understand his meaning. Looking down at her covered arms, she  scans the fabric for any indication that she was cold.

 

“Thin turtleneck? How did you know it’s-“ Suddenly, his meaning registered, and promptly glanced down at her breasts, two bumps marring the smooth surface of her turtleneck, then back to the man offering a suggestive smile and a flash of white teeth. “-You’re such a creep!” Korra lightly punched his shoulder, which instantly produced a flinch on his part.

 

Letting out a chuckle - a low sound that made her shiver… or was it the slight wind? - Tarrlok reached for his back pocket, pulling out a pack of cigarettes that was unfortunately empty. Well, unfortunate for him, that is. She didn’t think any passerbyers would appreciate cigarette remnants floating down to settle on their hair. “I am not, and you should know it’s already transitioning to autumn, cold weather is a given with the season.”

 

“Shut up, I know.” Korra huffs stubbornly without the usual venom. She knew how the seasons worked, she wasn’t a toddler or stupid. But she genuinely thought the black piece of cloth was enough for the day.

 

Just as she thought he couldn’t surprise her further, he deftly strips himself of his dark brown coat and settles it over her shoulders.

 

“Here.” He offers with warmth.

 

Absently, Korra peers at Tarrlok regarding her with a hint of something gleaming in his icy depths as she grasps onto the coat and pulls it more comfortably over her body to hide the visible shiver his gaze produced.

 

It’s too big for her - something she did not account for when she thought of their height difference, how much she reveled in glancing up at him as he towered over her - nearly grazing the middle of her calves. She’s all too aware that his scent of vanilla and tobacco washes over her, practically clinging to her skin and immediately breaks their intense gaze to focus on the city splayed before their eyes.

 

“Thanks,” Korra blurted lamely.

 

She attempted to keep her attention away from their close proximity, but almost as if he could read her mind, Tarrlok shifted closer and lazily drops his arm over her shoulders.

 

They lapse into a comfortable silence. Well, it would’ve been comfortable, but Tarrlok breaks it a few moments later.

 

“So, you want to tell me what’s been eating at you? You’ve been abnormally quiet these past few days,” he asks loud enough just for her to hear. Even though she was not blatantly looking at him she could feel his gaze still on her.

 

“So that’s why you took me here,” Korra uttered unimpressed, shrugging off his arm, only for it to grasp the railing beside her hip.

 

“Precisely that, and I come here to clear my mind once in a while.” He cleared his throat, glancing back at the city still bustling with life. He moved even closer and she was painfully conscious of his warmth heating her side deliciously, practically trapping her between his arm and the railing.

 

“Really?” She glances at his profile, horribly fascinated by the sharp edge of his jaw. “What do you need to clear your mind of?” She murmurs hastily, trying not to get too ahead of herself, especially with that treacherous voice threatening to surface.

 

“We can talk about that another time, for now we’re discussing what got you so quiet. The last time I witnessed you behave like this was when you first moved in.” Tarrlok mutters, more to himself than to her.

 

“I really don’t want to,” Korra sighed, but he waits patiently as she tries to gather her thoughts. How did he know what was going through her mind? If he was so observant of her crestfallen attitude, did he know how he truly made her feel? She shoves the thought to the back of her mind and focuses on what the subject matter.

 

He already knows something has been bothering you, just tell him. The voice spoke up. She hated to admit it, but that voice was right.

 

Korra takes a deep breath. “I-It’s just- It’s Noatak.” She says almost inaudibly, guiltily.

 

He must have misunderstood her meaning because he stood up a little straighter. “Is he bothering you?” He asks almost too seriously.

 

“No! Nothing like that, I just- ughhh!” She groans in frustration with herself. It was a little amusing to find him so protective of her, but in that it only further reminded her of her actual parents. Korra closed stinging eyes and took another deep breath in, trying to calm her nerves, trying to stop the tears that nearly spilled like it did every night. “When I see you two together, it makes me miss my family. That’s all.”

 

Even as she glanced away from Tarrlok, she felt him relax a little. “I apologize,” he said smoothly, genuinely. “I truly did not know he’d be out of prison so early and-“ He began.

 

Before he could go on further, she glances at him in slight amusement. “-It’s fine, seriously. Things happen... But you don’t even know what happened to me, how can you be sorry?” Korra wondered, silently hoping she wasn’t that easy to read.

 

“Just because I don’t have the knowledge of what specifically happened, doesn’t mean I should be ignorant when someone is in pain… Especially with you.” He says in all honesty, brushing her hip with the pad of his thumb.

 

When his pale blue depths easily met her cerulean ones, her heart rate inexplicably hastened. With how close they were pressed together, she did not doubt he couldn’t feel it pounding against her chest.

 

“Thank you.” Korra breathes.

 

“No problem, sweetheart.” He whispers, closing the distance between them to press a tender kiss to the top of her head.

 

A healthy flush colored her cheeks, his heat diminishing any coolness she previously felt. Korra bit her lip as he gazed out to the glowing city while still somewhat in his arms… well, arm, technically. Silence once again greeted them. He appeared as though he were in thought and without weighing any consequence, Korra laid her head on his shoulder.

 

It was all too nice, too intimate, that it nearly got her to melt. She wondered why he took her there, besides to talk about her ‘abnormally quiet behavior’ as he claimed, that is.

 

Despite the reality of their parent-child relationship, the atmosphere evidently pointed in the direction of one of lovers. She felt the romance around them, even peering at one of the few couples scattered throughout the attraction.

 

Korra swallowed nervously, unconsciously snuggling further into his side, almost letting go of the railing in favor of wrapping an arm around his waist. Spirits, she hated this, hated the foreign feeling of warmth and happiness and confusion and too many things that she still couldn't explain, even to herself.

 

“And whether you want to divulge your history to me or not, it’s up to you.” Tarrlok adds abruptly, as if he were thinking about the subject for a long while.

 

“You too, asshat.” She smiles, prodding her elbow into his ribs a little too hard judging by the tiny grimace that crossed his handsome features.

 

As they continued watching the city, she felt something unknowingly shift. She couldn’t place her finger on it, but the feeling was there. Her mind was too preoccupied on that subtle shift, too preoccupied with the man next to her that she scrambled to find something to fill the silence.

 

“You know, you’re not too bad of a dad… although you could use some improvement.” Korra smiled, shrugging to get his attention.

 

Coolly meeting her luminous blue eyes, the tiniest of smirks quirk onto the corner of his lips. “Is that so?” He asks smoothly, his voice lowering in an intimate manner which promptly gets a warm chill to shoot up her spine, gets the heat in her lower abdomen to stir subtly. Unknowingly, Korra stands slightly straighter.

 

Why was his voice so deep? Why was it making her shiver? For fucks sake.

 

“Mhm,” Korra nods in confirmation, biting her lip to hide the fact that she doesn't trust herself with forming a coherent sentence.

 

The movement does not go unnoticed by the man only inches away from her. His eyes flicker down to her plump lips for a fraction of a second before returning to her blue depths.

 

Almost as if time slowed and the people around them disappeared, they were caught within each other’s gazes. It felt like one of those daydreams she only recently began to have, as if it were only the two of them. One of them was inching closer. Whether it was her or Tarrlok, she did not know, she honestly did not care to know, mainly because any form of thought was definitely not going to process through her frazzled mind.

 

“And what do you presume I should improve upon?” He whispered, lids lowering seductively.

 

Her breath caught in her throat. The heat in his icy eyes and the way they kept traveling down to her mouth stirred a desire in her that was impossible to ignore.

 

“I don’t know.” Korra gasped, her heart pounding against her chest. That devious voice in the back of her mind emerged and only screamed her encouragement rather than anything logical. She felt like she had a fever, and it kept rising the closer those eyes seemed to get.

 

“Do enlighten me,” He locked her gaze with his when he was finally close enough for his nose to brush against her own. His thin lips were now a mere centimeter from hers, and in that moment, with those determined, pale eyes smoldering with an unfamiliar intensity, she wanted nothing more than to find out how those lips would feel against hers, how they would feel on her jaw or burning a trail down her neck.

 

“...I-“ Korra was finding it hard to think. He was so close. So close, that a tilt of her head could close the distance between them.

 

Spirits, she felt as though she were going to faint. Every thrumming cell in her body nearly exploded in anticipation. Was this actually happening? To her? Did he feel the same raging emotions as she did? Was he actually ok with this?

 

Gods, she wanted this, and drew in a sharp breath. She wanted to know the heated sensation of his lips anywhere on her body so badly it almost hurt.

 

“Tarrlok,” She whispered. Her lips ghosted over his as she spoke, unable to process the fact that they were doing such a thing.

 

But just as she whispered his name, a group of noisy tourists emerged, laughing boisterously, breaking any form of the romantic atmosphere in a matter of seconds. Korra still grasped onto the railing, and it was a good thing too, because she might have crumpled to the ground without its support as she realized she had almost kissed him. She had almost kissed Tarrlok.

 

She had almost just kissed Tarrlok.

 

Her heart jumped to her throat, watching the man - the man that only a few seconds ago was less than a centimeter away from her - tuck large hands into his front pockets awkwardly, jaw clenched in tension, eyes resolutely focused on the glowing city, and, if she looked close enough, which she did, the dusting of pink coloring his cheeks.

 

Almost an instant later, Korra sent the group a nasty glower as they seemed to not even notice what they had done in their entertained trace, what opportunity was now a lost cause on her and Tarrlok’s own part.

 

He cleared his throat, tugging at his tie to loosen the piece of silk.

 

“We should go home.” He says hastily.

 

Peeling her white-knuckled grip off the metal, she murmurs a, “T-that would be best.” Before following behind him, a not-so-discreet glare still pointedly directed towards the group.

Chapter Text

Asami had never seen her like this. Scatterbrained and oblivious, yes. Even acting distant and indifferent, sure. But never this distracted, especially when she was so focused on a water bottle.

 

What was so damn interesting about a water bottle? Asami faintly shook her head. From what she observed throughout the whole day, Korra constantly sported furrowed brows, yet a glazed and hazy look in her luminous blue eyes.

 

It was finally their last class of the day, calculus, and Asami was trying with all her might to listen to Mrs. Pema’s lecture. It wouldn’t have been so hard, but Korra’s wide eyed look had Asami torn between biting her lip to stifle a laugh or shaking her with worry. The class was quiet, which was a first, and it wouldn’t do if she randomly began cackling at her friend’s jolting stupor.

 

Not only would she look crazy, but Mrs. Pema would undoubtedly get incensed now that she was in her last trimester of pregnancy.

 

Asami ripped the corner of her notes, crumpling it into a tiny ball and discreetly flicking it towards Korra. She was expecting it to hit her face and immediately receive a shocked expression from her friend, but nothing happened. Sure, it did hit her cheek, but there was no flinch on Korra’s part, not even the tiniest twitch of her eye, the piece of paper nearly floating gracefully down to the carpeted floor. Perfectly shaped brows furrowed. What the hell was wrong with her?

 

“Korra,” Asami whispered loud enough for her friend to hear without getting in trouble. But, once again, not even a flare of her nostrils got a reaction out of Korra. She remained staring at the half-filled water bottle across from her with something akin to realization in her cerulean eyes.

 

Asami inspected her for any sign of abnormal behavior, anything out of place, besides the fact that she was distracted as all hell. Her brown hair was swept up in a messy bun, the tendrils framing her face delightfully. She wore a strapless white top that ended just at the level of her floating ribs, a black cardigan to keep her from the transitioning chill, matching jeans that nearly covered her belly button, and the same pair of leather shoes she constantly sported.

 

Nothing was out of place with her friend. This was in itself too bizarre, even for Korra’s standards.

 

“Psttt,” Asami tried again, lightly kicking Korra in the ankle. That sure got her attention, visibly shaking herself of her disoriented state and scanning her eyes hastily throughout the classroom. “Korra, are you okay?” She asked, slightly amused.

 

“Wha- huh? Oh, uhh, yeah never better.” Korra whispered, evidently attempting to gather her wits.

 

“You sure? You’ve been staring pretty intensely at Mako’s water bottle for the past ten minutes.” Asami said with a sly tinge in her voice. She noticed the faint pink tint to her blue-eyed friend’s cheeks, nearly cracking a smirk at her own suspicions.

 

“I’m fine, I swear… And I wasn’t staring, I was just… reading the label.” Korra insisted, deliberately avoiding Asami’s gaze. But the raven-haired beauty knew what was going on, she was well aware what that healthy blush meant. She can wait until after class to tease Korra.

 

“Right, well that explains why you’re still on page 122 and we’re on 126.” Asami muttered, a knowing smile lining her red lips before she could stop it from growing.

 

“Shit,” Korra uttered a soft curse, hastily flipping to the page the class was on while Asami let out a soft giggle.

 

“Korra, Asami, do you have something to share with the class?” Mrs. Pema interrupted, and almost instantly both of them froze at the numerous pairs of eyes settled on their forms disinterestedly. She was waiting for an answer, one hand on her growing belly as the other ceased her progression on the math problem written on the board.

 

Asami glanced at Korra from the corner of her eyes and back onto their teacher. “No, Mrs. Pema.” The two said in unison.

 

“Can I continue with my lecture?” She asked with exaggerated sweetness.

 

“Yes, Mrs. Pema.” They conceded, slumping in their chairs while watching Mrs. Pema continue explaining the problem.

 

Asami will let it go for now, but judging from the blush still heating her friend’s cheeks, she ventured to say she’ll find out one way or another and accepted that maybe it really wasn’t Tahno. She wouldn’t have been blushing all day if it was the scrawny guy, considering the fact that he was gone half the day and only returned to school after lunch. Maybe someone else was the cause of her weird behavior.

 


 

 

Everyone in the class was up and ready to go home. Chatter was booming as their classmates spoke to one another with an energy that almost completely diminished throughout Mrs. Pema’s lecture.

 

Korra flung her backpack behind her by the strap while Asami lazily grabbed onto her purse, her calculus textbook and binder in her arms.

 

The two of them made their way to the door and met up with Mako, who was already texting Bolin to ‘hurry his ass up’ since the brothers had a doctor’s appointment right after school. Korra was about to open her mouth, but Mrs. Pema’s pleasant voice interrupted.

 

“Don’t forget the college fair is tonight, seniors.” She informed the class, picking up the flyer and another piece of paper from her desk.

 

“Are we gonna get extra credit if we go?” Tahno asked idly, seemingly only slightly interested in the topic at hand.

 

“I was just about to say that, Tahno.” Mrs. Pema said with the tiniest bit of annoyance flavoring her voice. “But yes, you will get extra credit. You have to track me down and sign the attendance in order for you to get the five extra points.” She finished with shaking the two papers in her hands before organizing the stack of papers on her desk.

 

Korra let out a sigh, inexplicably tired from school and reliving what happened the day before. It was the complete opposite of what she had been feeling for the past few days that thinking about her future was another subject she truly did not want to touch upon.

 

Not only does she not know what to do with her life, but she also couldn’t fathom she even survived this long. With what she went through for those five long years, she’s surprised, yet proud, that she was still standing, that the thought of her future was too far ahead of her that she truly did not think about what she could possible do for the rest of her life.

 

Abruptly, a small growl was heard from Mrs. Pema as she glanced at the clock hanging on the wall. “The bells are off schedule today so good day class, I hope to see you guys tonight!” She dismissed everyone with a wave of her hand.

 

The whole class walked out of the room and into the cramped hallways with fluorescent lighting.

 

“Are you going?” Her green eyed friend asked, striding in sync with her, while blindly waving at Mako walking the opposite direction.

 

“Yeah, I need all the extra credit I can get.” Korra said with slight humor tainting her voice.

 

“Hey, you’re not failing and I think those tutoring sessions are helping, so I’m proud of you.” Asami muttered with a soft smile, nudging her in the ribs with her elbow.

 

“I’m pretty proud of that, too.” She agreed. And it was genuine, considering how terrible she was at math and for some reason was taking calculus. What was Tarrlok thinking, anyways? To be fair, he barely knew her then, only having a measly paper of her transcripts. He must’ve seen she took pre-calculus the year before and thought she was a genius. That was not true at all, it was a struggle to understand what was going on in her class and in Mrs. Pema’s as well.

 

“So you gonna tell me why you’ve been spacing out? You weren’t like this yesterday.” Asami asked. She was definitely more observant than Korra thought she was.

 

Taking a deep breath, she unknowingly squeezed her phone already in her grasp. “... Well-“ Korra began.

 

“-Wait, do you like someone?” Asami interrupted with a sly smile lining her red-tinted lips and mischief crossing viridian eyes. How? How did she know? Was there a sign on her forehead that said, ‘idiot that likes someone she shouldn’t’?

 

“Asami, I barely said a word!” Korra squeaked a little louder than necessary.

 

“Okay, okay, fine, I’ll let you talk… But you totally like someone, it’s written all over your face!” She gestured vaguely towards Korra’s confused face. She was almost tempted to look in the mirror and see for herself if that sign was plastered onto her forehead, but tried to focus on the subject.

 

“As I was saying, before I was rudely interrupted, you know this stuff more than I do. Say I do like someone…” Korra drawled, attempting to gather her thoughts and form a coherent sentence without appearing like a lovesick schoolgirl who wanted to jump a guy’s bones… even though that was technically what she had been feeling since the night before.

 

...Although, no one has to know about that part.

 

“Do I know him?” Asami asked hastily in hushed tones, slightly leaning towards Korra as if she were about to spill some gossip.

 

“It’s nobody! Can I finish?” Korra groaned, already hating the fact that she brought this up to her friend. If she couldn’t finish her sentence without Asami being too suspicious, she does not know if this was a good idea.

 

“Well stop beating around the bush and spit it out already!” Her raven-haired friend rushed with a flick of her wrist.

 

“Ughhh! Fine! Say I do like someone… How do I go about it?” She discreetly winced at her own lameness. She’s such an idiot. Bringing something so trivial that she honestly did not know how to deal with these ridiculous emotions.

 

“What do you mean?” Asami asked with a raised brow, grasping onto the leather strap of her bag and tugging it closer to her body.

 

“I don’t know how to handle it. I mean, besides that one guy I liked a few years ago, I don’t know how to go about it with this one. Like, do I act cute or sexy or what? Granted, I’ve been acting sorta cute this whole time, but I’ve also kinda been letting it run its course and so far it’s been working, but I can never be too sure with him, anyways...” Korra rambled on, more to herself than to her friend.

 

“Well, cute will only get you so far… How long have you liked him exactly?” Asami wondered.

 

“I don’t really know honestly. I started acknowledging it like a week ago or so, but it kinda just hit me yesterday…” She bit her tongue, nearly spilling her guts about what specifically happened the night before.

 

“Hmm,” The girl next to her hummed in thought.

 

“What?” Korra questioned, something akin to dread stirring in her stomach. When Asami had a knowing face like that - a subtle smirk lining her lips, viridian eyes slightly hooded in a sly gaze - she knew her friend was up to something.

 

“I was just wondering if that’s why you were staring at Mako’s water bottle for a solid ten minutes.” Asami dismissed with a shrug.

 

“You’re not helping, you know.” Korra said blankly, glancing at her friend with a straight face.

 

“Yeah, I know,” Asami smiled proudly. “I’m joking. Since you clearly don’t want me to know who this guy is, at least tell me Mr. Nobody’s personality so I can give you some of my magical advice.” She continued with wiggling fingers, and surprisingly enough she was genuinely interested in helping her.

 

“Mr. Nobody? Magical advice?” Korra questioned tentatively. This definitely was not a good idea. Even if Asami was willing to help, it was definitely not going to be easy.

 

“Hey, you’re the one who said he was nobody.” The beauty defended with another shrug and hands held up.

 

“Fine, fine… well… first of all, he’s prissy and self-absorbed and irritating, but he’s also really sweet and funny sometimes and not at all the guy I imagined I would like, especially with him.” She thought aloud, easily dodging a locker that was thrown open.

 

“You don’t want someone that’s sweet and funny?” Asami wondered with the smile still in place. Of course, she’s teasing Korra, but what she said was all true.

 

When she came to first meet Tarrlok, she assumed he was a snob, considering her wore a tailored suit and looked polished as ever. And as she settled into his estate, she was right, he was a snob, but she had to admit he did have his moments that left her torn between wanting to punch his shoulder and roll her eyes or simply allow a blush to color her cheeks at his quick-witted joke or his sweet gestures or even those heated glances they snuck of one another.

 

“I mean look-wise he definitely appeals to me, but his personality is a complete one-eighty from what I usually like… And he’s been the one kinda initiating things, whether it’s intentional or not.” Korra spoke loud enough to be heard through the crowd of high schoolers.

 

“So, that’s why you’re clueless…?” Asami guessed, lifting an eyebrow in the process.

 

Korra nods. She feels like a dumbass for not knowing something as simple as having a crush on someone. But she honestly doesn’t know if this was a crush or something more. When she compared it to her experience with liking Howl, it certainly felt a whole lot different.

 

Asami contemplates the situation with a slender finger lightly tapping her lower lip and hums in thought. “Hmm, well, I’d say test the waters a bit. If you’ve only been doing ‘cute’ and, like you said, he’s the one initiating, then throw him off guard, change it up a bit, you know?” She says suggestively, wiggling her body while Korra appears even more confused than a few moments ago.

 

“No, I don’t.” Korra drawled as they walked out of the main building and down the concrete stairs.

 

“Get rid of the monotony. Be the one who initiates things. Be the one who puts him back in his place. Guys love it when women show a dominant side, it makes you harder to get.” Asami shrugged.

 

“So… like a game?” She pondered.

 

“That’s actually a good way to think about it, yeah. You know, show him that you’re not just a cute girl, show him that you can be a sex kitten or something along those lines, too.” Her raven-haired friend suggested with a waggle of her brows.

 

“Sex kitten?” Korra questioned incredulously. Spirits, what did she get herself into?

 

There was no correlation between Korra and sex kitten. Sex kitten held the meaning of subtlety, something Korra already established she barely had. She didn’t even know how to act sexy, what more trying to convince Tarrlok, someone who appeared to have seduction mastered, evidently from the way she incessantly felt that stirring in her lower abdomen that was nearly impossible to ignore just from a simple sly gaze from the man.

 

Any form of contact between her and Tarrlok, innocent or not, could have her body thrumming with excitement without her permission. How could she possibly pull this off with someone twenty years her senior, with someone who clearly carried experience up his sleeve while she held a millimeter of it herself? Why was she even thinking about this in the first place?

 

Visibly shaking herself of such thoughts, she tried to think of her real parents, tried to pry her attention away from lewd deeds, but they constantly returned. Korra chalked it all up to the could-have-been-an-amazing-kiss the night before. But Asami’s giggle brought her back to the situation at hand.

 

“Hey, don’t knock it till you try it.” Asami dismissed, something that had Korra pausing in her step.

 

—-

 

Korra took her seat in the practically empty tram, grasping onto her phone as she texted Tarrlok. He was once again stuck in a meeting and she took it upon herself to take the train rather than burden Asami with another ride. Well, that and the fact that she needed the time to think to herself all while trying to avoid Asami’s suspicions.

 

She already said too much about his personality, and she hopes to the spirits above that her raven-haired friend doesn’t catch on. Korra doesn’t know what she would do if Asami did, in any case. Her viridian-eyed friend already flirts with him on a regular basis, even though it is all a ploy just to get a reaction out of her, and knowing that Asami has an inkling on Tarrlok’s personality unnerves her.

 

One slip up, one little bit of information could potentially have the wheels turning in Asami’s intelligent brain, connecting two-and-two together, and undoubtedly she’d think Korra was some sick fuck who got off on daddy issues. As much as she hated to think about it, the longer that knowledge settled in her body, the more she regretted saying anything.

 

Korra fidgeted with the silver ring around her finger. What the hell was wrong with her? Asking Asami for love advice about her supposed father, it all made her nearly groan aloud. But she couldn’t stop it, couldn’t stop the shock and warmth rushing through her veins as the dream played before her eyes.

 

Her inevitable bout of tears at night were abruptly put on hold the day before as she tossed and turned with irritation and frustration. She recalled once she got into a comfortable position - one leg under the covers and the other out, all while stripped down to her underwear - she almost instantly drifted into a deep slumber and into the land of dreams.

 

Although it was short-lived, Korra remembered dreaming of Tarrlok trailing a heated path of kisses down her neck. She remembered he did not cease in his path, nipping and biting and moaning a soft curse as her hand trailed between their bodies to grasp at his arousal and he pinned her to the plush mattress beneath their weight. She recalled waking up early that morning by Tarrlok stroking her hair, a thin layer of sweat settling over her skin.

 

Just the way he watched her slowly regain her bearings got her pulse racing, her dream still fresh in her mind. He let out a low chuckle at her expression before leaving her to stare wide-eyed at his back and burn in a raging heat.

 

Korra was nearly in a daze once again. Just the thought that it was in the realm of possibility now sets her body ablaze, sets the warmth stirring in her lower abdomen.

 

A cough was heard to the right and broke her from her thoughts. Spirits, she needed to get her mind out of the gutter. Just focus on something irrelevant. Maybe the ride home? Yes, that’s it. The ride home was surprisingly calming despite the short time to travel.

 

Her eyes scan the tram, the few people occupying it either sleeping or immersing themselves to the bright screen of technology. Glancing out the window, Korra watches buildings pass at high speeds as the ever-present voice enunciates the upcoming stations. The ride was surprisingly soothing compared to the last time she took the train. Although, it was during rush hour and she was not in the mood to be squeezed and pressed upon in a tight tram.

 

She’s about to glance down to her vibrating phone, when she catches sight of Harmony Tower in the distance. She still held a grudge towards that group of tourists. That wouldn’t change. And of course, she’s back to thinking about that infuriating man.

 

Her mind is still paralyzed with what could have happened the night before. She didn’t lie when she said he was sweet. He is sweet, maybe overly so, and she can’t stop the dopey smile that curves her lips from the way he draped his coat over her shoulders protectively, that he deliberately went out of his way to comfort her, that they were about to kiss. Gods, just the graze of their lips nearly got Korra in a frenzy all over again. He must be an exceptional kisser. With a mouth that never seems to shut up, he must have some good use for it besides schmoozing.

 

The mere thought of those lips that ghosted over hers trailing a heated path down her neck, over the bony prominence of her collarbone, down the valley of her breasts… jiggling them enticingly as he groans in pleasure…

 

You totally want him! That voice roared in laughter.

 

Korra shakes her head, attempting to rid herself of that devious voice. It has been a little less than a week since Mako articulated that realization, and yet the emotions did not diminish like she thought they would. Instead, they raged wilder than she had ever handled a crush - if this was a crush to begin with.

 

And soon after, that voice repeated Asami’s words, guys love it when women show a dominant side, it makes you harder to get.

 

Was this how girls acted when they liked someone? How could she play hard to get? She lived with the man for spirits’ sake. But she thinks back to their interactions. For the most part, she was the one that was getting thrown off, that he was the one that initiated all these confusing emotions that jumbled up in a big mess.

 

Maybe it’s because she’s actually fine with him taking over? Or maybe it’s because she subconsciously likes the power he holds, that he could easily dominate her if he so desired. But what could throw the ever-composed politician off balance? They’ve been blatantly flirting - that’s something she couldn’t deny any longer - but even that had been in their realm of safety. Each teasing comment of theirs only reaches so far as to not totally knock the other out of the game.

 

So how exactly does she go about this? Korra desperately grasps onto the straws of the cheesy plots and tactics of romance novels. From what she can recall, the women were coy, they held seduction and subtlety down to the very detail - with the swing of their hips as they sauntered away from their lover, the deliberate lingering gazes, the intentional drops of a pen, the perfect amount of tits and ass put on display. But that’s just the thing. She reasons that she is the total opposite.

 

Seduction is as familiar to her as a fish is to air, she’s nearly gasping for help, but she acknowledges that Asami will find out if she says anything more. Asking Noatak is out of the question, and so are the brothers she barely got to see at school this past week. If she even mentioned it to Mako, he’d probably plant even more seeds into her brain for her to tend to, for her to imagine it was happening in reality rather than in the privacy of her own mind.

 

Korra takes a deep breath in and glances at the phone between her sweaty palms. How disgusting.

 

She informs him about the college fair and almost immediately receives an ‘ok’ back. Although it was a simple text, nothing at all that was suggestive, her mind automatically tries to find ways that would reduce him to a blubbering mess. Or even better, witnessing that pink tint on his cheeks as his icy eyes grow dark with lust, the look she assumed he would have if he were turned on enough to pin her to the wall.

 

Spirits, if it ever came to that, she would have no qualms in letting him dominate her, letting that vanilla and tobacco and the scent of sex cling to her body.

 

Korra bit her lip, she felt as though she were going to faint into a heated mess if this continued. Almost instantly, that devilish voice in the back of her mind whispers a plan that surprisingly sounds attainable in the likes of Korra.

 

A sinful smile threatens the line her plump lips and before she could let it do so, the train is gradually slowing to her station and she stands from her seat. She hopes her below par acting skills will be enough to seduce him.

 


 

The day was dreadfully exhausting, mentally and physically draining him to the core. He truly was not planning on leaving the safety of his estate, especially now that he peculiarly did not have work to finish. It was a blessing, but an odd sensation. He was constantly occupied with papers that needed revising or staring with aching eyes at the screen of his laptop that allowing his tense muscles to finally loosen was a foreign feeling that he was rather fond of. But he had to refrain from getting too relaxed, not only because they needed to leave soon, but also because if he relaxed too much, the erotic thoughts circling his mind would take over his body.

 

Naga was sitting beside his feet, watching eagerly as he stirred the nearly finished fried rice sizzling in the heated pan. Arctic depths glanced at Korra in the common room, she was hunched over the coffee table, scrawling hurriedly onto a piece of paper.

 

Over the past twenty-four hours, she occupied his thoughts. In his lecherous dreams, as he prepared for the day earlier that morning, during that dreadful meeting, and now as he cooked them dinner. He reprimanded himself for even acting on such thoughts. Indeed, he held lewd judgements about her, but actually acting them out? What was he, a sexually aroused teenager? Spirits, he was a grown man! Tarrlok had to wonder how his willpower almost completely diminishes with this young woman.

 

She could do nothing, merely watching the glowing city just as she did the night before, and yet he could still be caught in a trance. Tarrlok furrowed his brows as he switched the stove off, moving the pan to an empty space on the appliance and covering it with its lid.

 

“Can you help me with something before we go?” Korra asked, standing from her spot on the sofa and making her way to him.

 

“What is it?” He wondered coolly, attempting to compose himself from his impure thoughts.

 

“Well, it’s for government, and you know, it’s kinda your specialty sooooo…” She drawled, dancing her way to his side with a notebook and pen in tow, and surprisingly enough, lightly bumped his hip with hers.

 

“Kind of?” He replied, sarcasm lacing his voice.

 

“Shut up, you know what I mean. Anyway, I need to make a flowchart on how the government passes laws and I don’t know anything about this.” She informed him, dropping the notebook onto the counter in a rather ungraceful manner and glancing over her shoulder to meet his pale blue eyes.

 

“You don’t have a textbook to refer to?” He queried with a smirk. Of course, he’d help her, but he couldn’t stop himself from teasing her.

 

“I do have one, but I forgot it in my locker.” She mumbled through a suffering sigh.

 

“Are you feeling yourself today, sweetheart? Are you ill? You seem a bit distracted.” He shifted closer, lightly touching the back of his hand to her forehead, and feigning a look of that similar to a doctor to their patient, despite already having such knowledge on exactly why she was distracted today, only due to it also distracting him as well. Based off of his judgments, she did feel a sliver warmer than normal.

 

“I’m fine!” She swatted at his hand, immediately glancing away from his gaze, but he knew what was going on. He knew she was hiding a fierce blush from him, but instead of toying with her further, Tarrlok decided to let it slide once he heard another sigh leave her lips. “Look, the faster I get this done, the faster we can leave and get this college fair over with.” She huffed.

 

“I’m just jesting, Korra.” He said in amusement, pulling her into a light embrace and silently relishing the feel of her petite yet strong body pressed against his front, even though she stood limp rather than circle her arms around his waist as he preferred. He would have taken a particular liking to the embrace, but she jabbed at his chest with a harsh finger, pushing him away to look at him with something akin to enjoyment in those cerulean irises.

 

“I’m serious, I want to get this done fast.” Korra said resolutely, directly contradicting the look in her eyes. Although, she appeared as though she were attempting to reel in a great amount of control over the situation.

 

“Fast, huh?” He smirked, placing a hand on the countertop as the other settled on the harsh curve of her waist. Despite the bells blaring in his mind that were screaming for him to stop, he deliberately ignored it, practically shoved the attempts to the farthest portion of his mind and reveled in the warmth underneath his hand.

 

Korra glanced at him once again, and this time her luminous blue eyes turned darker. “ Very fast,” She uttered, the double entendre certainly not lost on him.

 

His jaw clenched and immediately tore his gaze away from her in favor of clearing his throat. Without waiting another second, his frenzied mind scrambled to find the words in the process of making a law through the erotic images flashing in his thoughts. Korra in his bed, Korra sprawled out on mussed sheets, Korra watching him with heated eyes and a healthy flush coloring her cheeks just as she had in this moment, Korra pinned beneath him as he pounded into-

 

Tarrlok took a deep breath in and began his impromptu lesson, despite the images fleeting past his thoughts.

 

“Well, a law always begins with an idea, and that idea can come from anyone. It is taken up to the elected officials, such as you’re handsome father, and it is up to them if they want to try to make it a law, in which they will write a bill.” He explained, slightly shocking himself with how steady his voice sounded, despite the beginnings of arousal already stirring in his body.

 

“Pft, ‘handsome father’ my ass.” Korra mumbled underneath her breath.

 

They were close enough that Tarrlok heard exactly what she said, but he needed some clarification, and badgering her was always an entertaining pastime for him. Of course, he thought he was handsome. And based off of her behavior, especially since the night before, she must have agreed with his claim as well. She wouldn’t have been so accepting of such advances if she didn’t perceive him as handsome, in any case.

 

But that in itself was what kept him lying awake at night, kept him incessantly longing to feel her smooth skin underneath his fingertips or lips. And it was exactly what he scolded himself to cease such lewd thoughts, that she was his adopted daughter and he her adoptive father, that nothing should break that fragile bond between them, but he continued, anyway.

 

“Pardon?” He tilted his head, pulling her slightly closer to him and waiting for an answer from the young woman biting her lip, a movement that had him fixated on her plump lips.

 

“Huh? Oh nothing, continue.” She hastily finished her sentence written in her notebook, and turned to face him with a mischievous glint in her expression.

 

Tarrlok was undeniably wary of her. Through the sensual ideas of Korra occupying the space in his bed, he tried to recall any moment he shared with this young woman just as she was currently behaving, but he cannot come to a conclusion. Not when she was watching him with eyes that held something hidden, something she did not want him to know.

 

Swallowing over a suddenly dry throat, he continued hesitantly. “As I was saying, a bill can start in either house of Congress when it’s introduced by its primary sponsor, such as a Senator or Representative.” He gestured vaguely with his free hand.

 

“Mhm,” She hummed, signaling she was ready to hear more. That in itself was not peculiar, but the way she held a penchant for appearing as though she were listening even though he knew she was not had him narrowing his eyes a fraction, especially now that she shifted her position in his arms.

 

She was looking directly at him, and with their unintentionally intimate position - Korra practically pinned between the harsh edge of the counter and his body, as her hands splayed on the countertop, one hand nearly crawling to touch his - his focus was slipping.

 

“Representatives or Senators meet in a small group to research, discuss, and make changes to the bill. They vote whether to accept or reject the bill and its changes before sending it to the House or Senate floor for debate or to a subcommittee for further research.” Tarrlok expounded, catching her shimmering gaze with his as she nodded at appropriate times.

 

He realized he was doing exactly what he scolded himself for the night before, yet once again, he sensed he was under some sort of spell. Vivid blue eyes darkened with something akin to lust, with a cloud of mirth that it immediately produced the tiniest spike in his heart rate.

 

“Continue,” She breathed almost inaudibly, breaking the intense gaze in favor of glancing down at his determined lips with ardent intrigue. When she glanced back into his dilated pupils, Tarrlok clenched his jaw, attempting to control his body. Spirits, he desperately prayed that she did not feel his member twitching with arousal.

 

“Members of the House or Senate can then debate the bill and propose changes or amendments before voting… You don’t seem to be paying attention, Korra.” His voice lowered huskily.

 

“What makes you think I’m not?” She tilted her head to the side almost too innocently. She was most definitely up to something. And even if he acknowledged that she was, he couldn’t stop the teasing smirk from curving his lips.

 

“The fact that you barely wrote more than a sentence down.” He tilted his head in challenge, matching her all-too-innocent expression with a roguish one of his, as she folded strong arms over her ample chest, his icy depths following the movement. The movement alone did not alleviate the heat he felt stirring in his loins, only exacerbating it by emphasizing her cleavage further over her strapless top.

 

The tightness is Tarrlok’s gut had crept into his loins, threatening to manifest physical changes over his body if he relinquished control. The silky skin of her toned abdomen felt too good against his calloused hands, his thumb unconsciously drawing circles, nearly making its way underneath the fabric, allowing more access to her overheated body.

 

“Sure, but that doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention. I can’t help that you’re a very captivating orator.” She says barely above a whisper, pleasure tainting her voice in noticing he blatantly eyed her breasts.

 

His eyes slowly trailed up the unmarred column of her neck, meeting her own with lust burning in those shimmering orbs. Just as the night before, he couldn’t stop himself in closing the small distance between them. He could smell the scent of her skin, an intoxicating mix of fruit and an unnamed sweetness. With every breath, he breathed her in, and with every exhale, a little more of his self restraint was dissolved.

 

Tarrlok acknowledged he should cease such reckless behavior, that at any moment Noatak could walk in and witness the two of them like this, that this wasn’t how a father figure should act towards his adopted daughter. But her body was wordlessly beckoning him and he was half tempted to grasp onto those hidden toned thighs, to have them wrapped around his waist as he pressed lingering kisses to her neck and shoulders.

 

“Is that so?” He nearly groaned as she shifted her hips directly beneath his. Deliberately or not, it felt exquisite.

 

Things were becoming increasingly dangerous and the danger only made him want more, want to taste the forbidden fruit before him with renewed desire.

 

“Uh huh,” She confirmed with a breathy sigh. That tough demeanor of hers that she only recently decided to create slightly slipped as she became restless against his body. Whether it was due to his hand tightening on the sliver of her exposed midriff, or the fact that he unconsciously pulled her hips flush against his, he did not know. But judging from the marred surface of her top, he presumed it was a combination of both.

 

“You should know flattery doesn't faze me, Korra.” He lied. It was a complete lie, but he attempted to grasp at the remaining pieces of willpower in controlling the situation.

 

“Then why is it working right now?” She asked shakily as she lifted her hips to meet his, an audible sigh inevitably escaping his throat without his permission. He ventured to guess this was affecting her as it was to him. That it effectively wiped any coherent thought from his frazzled brain, his only focus was on the young woman and her hands that crawled up his chest in what he presumed would circle around his neck, or even tangle in his long locks.

 

Despite the more rational portion of his mind nearly yelling at him to stop, their lips grazed each others, eyes drowsily closing and unconsciously tilting their heads to accept the pending kiss.

 

“I’m starv… ing,” Noatak interrupted with a grotesque, knowing smile plastered on his face. It was precisely the same expression he had when he caught Tarrlok staring at Korra earlier that week. “Well, well, well, what do we have here?” He questioned slyly.

 

“Shouldn’t you be somewhere else, Noatak?” Tarrlok hissed through clenched teeth, immediately removing his hand from her hip to not-so-subtly land on the counter. He felt Korra bow her head, nearly resting against his chest, as he glared at Noatak over her shoulder.

 

“I should? Where, dear brother?” He teased, absorbing the sight before him.

 

“I’m gonna get my stuff,” Korra mumbled hastily, scrambling from her spot between the counter and his body in favor of merely escaping the awkward situation. He couldn’t blame her for leaving, but Tarrlok loathed admitting to himself that he missed the warmth of her petite frame against his own.

 

“You do that, cupcake. I need to have a few words with my baby brother.” Noatak dismissed, his eyes still locked with Tarrlok’s as they gleamed with mischief and a seriousness that hadn’t been there since he first came knocking on his brother’s door.

 

“No, we’re just leaving.” Tarrlok declares, straightening his tense figure and striding to leave the kitchen.

 

“I don’t think so,” But Noatak seemed to have other plans as he grasped his bicep to stop him.

 

“Noatak, she’ll be late.” Tarrlok says all too seriously, attempting to pry his brother’s strong grip on his arm.

 

“That’s not any of my concern at the moment. I didn’t peg you for someone who favored a young woman’s attention, specifically one that is of your adopted daughter… ” He accused. But Tarrlok remained stubbornly quiet, taking the intangible hits as Noatak roved scrutinizing eyes over Tarrlok’s stoic expression. “Fine, I’m letting you go for now, but keep in mind that our talk later is inevitable, brother.” Noatak released his grip on his arm.

 

Tarrlok took a deep breath in, grasping onto the keys from the table, and unconsciously felt himself crumbling from the gravity of his issues.

 


 

There was a lot of people. She could honestly say she wasn’t expecting that. Maybe other teachers were offering extra credit too? Maybe people were actually interested in the college fair? Whatever the reason, it was crowded and she wanted to get this over with.

 

“This is rather cohesive,” The man next to her muttered in obvious sarcasm under his breath. It was enough for her to crack the tiniest of smiles and roll her eyes skyward as she began making her way through the crowd.

 

“Stop being such a baby, I’m just here to get the extra credit, then we can go.” She nudged him blindly, harshly.

 

“I’m only joking.” He winced, following behind her with a gentle hand settling on her shoulder.

 

“With what sense of humor?” She bit back, glancing over her shoulder to meet his narrowed eyes, but the acidity in his gaze was absent.

 

“Such a sharp tongue for a seventeen year old.” He closed some distance between them and whispered into her ear. It was enough of turn on for a warm shiver to spark up her spine.

 

Be seductive! That voice nearly screamed her instructions.

 

“You really want to find out?” Korra slowly smirked. She lowered her lids in an attempt to appear somewhat sexy. She felt like an idiot, but it must’ve worked considering the slightest darkening of his icy depths, similar to what happened nearly thirty minutes prior.

 

He opened his mouth in what Korra assumed would be an innuendo or some sort of double entendre, but she heard Asami’s voice cut through their daze.

 

“Korra!” She called excitedly. That was enough of a rouse to tear her eyes away from Tarrlok’s and onto her friend’s tender gaze.

 

“Hey, Asami.” Korra greeted in what she hoped was her steady voice. Nothing to get suspicious about. She swallowed over the lump in her throat, her heart pumping blood faster, inducing the heat she felt rush to her cheeks.

 

“Mr. Tarrlok,” Asami smiled pleasantly.

 

“Miss Sato,” He returned her smile with a slight bow of his head. Even though Tarrlok was behind her and the auditorium was filled with seniors and parents and teachers and whoever else, she was all too aware that half of his body was pressed to her back.

 

“Are you looking around at the booths?” Korra asked, more to distract herself of that distinct shiver that courses through her veins.

 

“Yeah, but I don’t really know where to start.” Asami shrugged, scanning the booths around them as Korra does the same.

 

There was an unspoken path that formed through the crowd and instantly Korra recognized those golden irises focused on a student interested in his booth. Of course, she didn’t know his name, but it was merely a week ago since she saw those unmistakable eyes stare longingly at her raven-haired friend.

 

“Hey, I know that guy…” Korra pointed towards the booth the man sat behind. Asami followed the direction of her finger and Korra felt her face heat up even further at the knowing smirk on the beauty’s face.

 

“Is that the guy that’s been on your mind? Because if so, I definitely approve.” She commented slyly, arms folded across her chest as she glanced back at Korra.

 

“No! It’s not him!” Korra squeaked in a panic. Spirits, why did she have to bring that up now ? Of all times, it had to be when Tarrlok practically was pressed to her back, when he could presumably feel every reaction before she expressed it.

 

“Why is it now that I come to find out you’re growing fond of someone, sweetheart?” His voice spoke up thick with saccharin and his large hand squeezed her shoulder the slightest bit. He may have an inkling of who exactly was occupying her thoughts, namely due to the fact they almost kissed twice in the past twenty-four hours, but she wouldn’t voice them if he had any suspicions, especially with Asami smiling in mischief before her.

 

“Mhm. She just told me today, Mr. Tarrlok. Although, she wouldn’t say who.” Asami narrowed her viridian eyes towards Korra. The small action was enough to get her internally panicking as she tried to keep a poker face. But Korra had to squint her eyes back at Asami.

 

“Yeah, and there’s a reason why I did just that. Anyway, I saw that guy over there staring at you when we were at the cafe last weekend.” Korra shook her head, barely suppressing a glare to her friend as she actually thought he was the one who was on her mind.

 

“Really?” Asami asked, genuinely surprised. She really shouldn’t be, though, considering she was immensely more gorgeous than herself. “Hmm… Well, let’s go pay him a visit, shall we?” And she was already turning on her heels, making her way to the man’s booth like she had every right to do so… well, she technically did, but that’s besides the point.

 

“Asami!” Korra called, but it was futile. She followed her friend to the booth, grasping at Tarrlok’s wrist and somewhat dragging him along their path.

 

From what Korra could sense, he was more than fine with getting dragged along. But maybe that was because there was no one to schmooze to.

 

“Nice booth you got here,” Asami commented playfully which prompted the man behind the booth to abruptly stand up from his seat. Her hands were propped on her hips as she scanned the many pamphlets scattered on the table about joining the United Republic military.

 

Korra watched her dark-haired friend. How could she be so confident when confronting someone who potentially has feelings for her? Although the man behind the table stood almost a full head taller than her friend, it was sort of endearing to see those golden eyes widen, to see a blush color his pale cheeks.

 

“I-uh, yeah, thanks.” The man stammered and visibly swallowed nervously while under Asami’s intense gaze.

 

“Asami Sato.” She held a delicate hand out in greeting.

 

Korra could only watch like an outsider as the two were already immersed in each other’s intense scrutiny. The man grasped Asami’s hand and shook it with a smile curving his lips.

 

“Iroh. T-technically, General Iroh. Are you interested in joining the military?” Iroh cleared his throat in what Korra assumed was trying to get back to the subject matter. Just as the two were already engaged in each other’s presence, Korra didn’t want to become a burden on their part. She blindly grasped onto Tarrlok’s wrist once again and glanced over her shoulder as his icy depths roved from the brewing couple to coolly meet hers.

 

There was a spark in his arctic eyes that had her breath catch in her throat. It must’ve been the sight of those two that got his jaw to clench with tension. Spirits, they were so close, it reminded her of what transpired in the kitchen before they left for the college fair. But she shouldn’t be thinking about that, not with the couple in their vicinity and not with Tarrlok practically against her.

 

“Come on, I’ll leave those two alone, I need to find Mrs. Pema, anyways.” Korra said almost inaudibly, tugging at his wrist for him to follow her.

 

—-

 

Korra spent the last twenty minutes trying to find Mrs. Pema. And of course, she was with Mr. Tenzin supervising the crowd near the threshold to the hallway. The two were undeniably adorable together, especially now that Mrs. Pema appeared to be in her late stages of pregnancy, her enormous belly protruding out. But the way the two looked at each other with warmth and genuine love and something she hasn’t seen in years produced the tiniest spark of nostalgia.

 

Although the couple reminded her of her parents, there were no tears threatening to spill. She was thankful for that, mainly because Tarrlok quietly followed her around like a lost puppy. It was different feeling knowing that he was silently doing as she pleased, despite him trailing off for a few seconds, only to return behind her a moment later.

 

Maybe it was because she took Asami’s advice and he didn’t know how to feel about that sudden change? Or maybe it was due to the fact that the auditorium was filled with students that there was no room for their usual banter? Whatever the reason, she didn’t think too much into it, considering they only attended the college fair because of her pending extra credit.

 

They were already walking through the crowd once again, almost out the doors and into the parking lot, when Tarrlok took her hand in his as a way to get her attention. Her heart rate hastened and she stopped in her tracks to look at him expectantly.

 

“You’re really not interested in looking? You never know what you’ll find if you don’t venture out.” He spoke up. It was a nice thought that he was interested in her future. But maybe it was because he was her father figure, it was a given that he’s support her through her future decisions… right?

 

“Nah, I’m good.” Korra shook her head politely, unclasping his hand from hers and already spinning on her heels to leave the auditorium. She was ready to go home, to leave the campus and occupy the rest of the night with Naga and numb her senses with music.

 

Abruptly, Tarrlok easily caught up to her side, draping a strong arm over her shoulders while she remained in the same limp position. Trying with all her might, she resisted the temptation to wrap an arm around his waist, but Asami’s words and that devious voice repeated in her mind.

 

Play hard to get!

 

“I thought you would say that, so I got some pamphlets for you.” She felt him reach into his coat pocket, only to reveal three folded papers. With furrowed brows, Korra took the pamphlets in her grasp and scanned the advertised universities.

 

As they continued their walk out the campus and into the parking lot, Tarrlok guided her along their path as she flipped through the pamphlets.

 

“Sports med?” She questioned, genuinely confused, but that warmth began welling up inside her, namely the one that consistently began whenever he did something sweet.

 

“You do give some marvelous massages,” Tarrlok drawled, but almost immediately she could feel him regret what he said by the way he tensed against her side. An amused smile crosses her features and she guesses they were thinking of the same thing, namely that of him groaning into a pleasurable mess as she worked at his taut muscles.

 

“So you finally admit it.” Korra folded her arms deliberately over her breasts and glanced at him with mirth swimming in her shimmering cerulean orbs, all while he rolled icy depths skyward and took a deep breath in. “I’ll look into it.” She whispered with a smile, but she was serious.

 

The look he gave her nearly had her knees buckling underneath her weight. “Let’s go home,” He says with warmth, squeezing her shoulder and unknowingly hastening her steps as the slight wind brought the tightening in her chest, something she knew he’d notice if she didn’t get warm soon.

 


 

“I’m waiting.” Noatak prompts. He stood there, leaning against the counter opposite of Tarrlok with arms folded across his broad chest and a stern expression etched on his aged face.

 

It was eerily silent between the two brothers. The only noise came from Korra’s room upstairs, the familiar music playing from the turntable that he assumed was steadily spinning. Whether she was snuggled between the mussed sheets and already in a deep slumber or not was beyond Tarrlok.

 

“Noatak, she can still be awake.” Tarrlok says seriously, barely above a whisper. There was no need to disturb Naga curled into a ball on her plush bed in the common room. He mimicked the same posture as his brother across from him, although he was all too cautious of saying too much lest Korra was still awake and decided to come down to fetch something.

 

“She can’t hear us over that music she’s listening to, brother.” Noatak dared, his arctic eyes catching those that matched his perfectly. Tarrlok acknowledged that he was right, but it didn’t settle well in his body.

 

“Still, you never know…” He murmured inaudibly, glancing away from Noatak’s intense scrutiny to focus on the remaining morsels of fried rice in the pan.

 

“C’mon, brother to brother. Her? Technically your daughter?” The man across from him nearly spat in something akin to disgust and bewilderment all at the same time. Tarrlok should have known this would blow up in his face. Even if this… attachment… barely began, he acknowledged this should stop. Despite his brother occupying a prison cell for the past thirteen years, Noatak knew how he functioned. They didn’t spend nearly five years working together, practically their whole lives immersed in each other’s company, to not understand one another. They were brothers, after all.

 

“Do you think I don’t know what she is to me? Do you honestly belittle me that much to believe I truly want this, that I deliberately formed such feelings for her, or that I would act upon such impulses? Noatak, I have more self-restraint than you think… And it’s just an infatuation, nothing more.” Tarrlok adds in an attempt to convince his brother, although it sounded the complete opposite even to his ears.

 

“Clearly,” Noatak scoffed in obvious disbelief. That compelled Tarrlok to send a grotesque glare towards his brother. He must’ve felt some sort of pity towards Tarrlok for he slouched forward and relaxed from his tense posture and let out a long, suffering sigh. “Look, I’m just looking out for my baby brother, it wouldn’t be the first time that you were impulsive… or did you forget exactly what happened thirteen years ago?” He queried with a twitch to his brows.

 

Tarrlok tensed further. Spirits, this wasn’t what he planned to transpire on a night free of any form of work. It also certainly wasn’t in his plans to continuously relive that night that nearly got him in prison.

 

“Of course I didn’t forget! How could I, now that you’re here.” Tarrlok snarled with brows furrowed and an expression that would undoubtedly leave him recoiling if he spared a glance in the mirror.

 

“So I’m an inconvenience for you?” His brother commented blandly. Noatak finally tore his gaze away from Tarrlok to glance outside the window.

 

“Noatak-” He began, pinching the bridge of his nose as he felt a headache forming, but Noatak continued.

 

“No, no, the message is crystal clear.” Noatak dismissed with a disappointed shake of his head and a wave of his hand.

 

“Noatak, you know I didn’t mean it that way.” Tarrlok nearly huffed, running a hand through his disheveled locks. Seven hells, he needed a cigarette, he needed the nicotine to calm his frazzled nerves.

 

“Calm down, brother, I’m just teasing you. But like I said, I’m looking out for you, you know I don’t want to see your success crumble to the ground from the press, especially with father haunting us from the grave.” Noatak unfolded his arms and grasped the edge of the counter, slumping forward.

 

“I know, you made that obvious the last time I saw you.” He gave a tentative nod and closed exhausted eyes as that treacherous night replayed before him.

 


 

Korra didn’t mean to snoop. She was parched, simply about to retrieve a glass of water before the tears made her dehydrated, but she heard the brothers talking. At first it was in hushed tones, but as they continued their… conversation?... her curiosity bested her.

 

Hiding behind the wall, she listened to them, braving a peek into the kitchen. Noatak appeared as calm and collected as ever, arms folded across his chest and leaning against the edge of the counter.

 

Look, I’m just looking out for my baby brother, it wouldn’t be the first time that you were impulsive… or did you forget exactly what happened thirteen years ago? She heard Noatak prod at Tarrlok.

 

Of course I didn’t forget! How could I, now that you’re here. Tarrlok practically hissed.

 

She could feel the frustration radiating from his usually smooth voice, could feel the tension in his muscles even though she wasn’t anywhere near him. They were deliberately hiding something from her, something she doesn’t know if she wants to hear.

 

Whatever it was, it could wait until one of them tells her. She had to understand where they were coming from, anyways. Not only because she knew it was a sensitive topic to approach with Tarrlok, based off of their first night together, but also because she still has not been divulged her history to her adoptive father.

 

Before they could find her snooping behind the wall, Korra hastily yet quietly pads back to her room.

 

She could wait until the time comes.

Chapter Text

 

 

With the week passing by in near incessant teasing between him and Korra, Tarrlok felt his willpower diminish into almost nothing with each ‘accidental’ glance she took. She claimed she was innocent, but the spark in those shimmering cerulean orbs told him otherwise. There was undeniably a plan she concocted in that devious mind of hers and despite all efforts in ceasing such provocative advances he couldn’t help but remain frozen and watch like some sick voyeur.

 

He silently chanted the consequences, silently recalled Noatak’s insipid voice from the previous week, but to no avail. Every minute detail he formed in resisting her was effectively wiped from his mind when she waltzed into the room with twinkling eyes quietly mocking him. Only after her sly attempts, did he reprimand himself. A thirty-seven year old man, broken down by lust by the hands of a mere teenager. Pathetic.

 

Noatak took a particular observation in his behavior and could only shake his head in disappointment. It was sad, really. His brother knew him better than he did himself at times, and witnessing that impalpable disappointment felt like a hit to his stomach. But what bewildered Tarrlok was the fact that Noatak seemed to take particular entertainment in watching Korra subtly goad him into a frenzy.

 

And although the disgust from the previous week was still there, it diminished significantly since their inevitable talk. But that didn’t stop him from being a normal brother and egged Korra on, encouraging her to repeat gestures, to repeat obscene jokes because he ‘wasn’t looking’ or ‘wasn’t listening’ he claimed. Of course, that only resulted in Tarrlok to not-so-discreetly glare at his teasing brother.

 

Tarrlok honestly didn’t know how much longer he could handle this. He was itching to do something about it, but she always wiped any form of a plan from his mind with her own deceitful one.

 

His fingers shook with anger as he unlocked the front door. It was anger at himself that she was the one breaking him down, that she held the upper hand in easily diverting his attention.

 

Although Korra was getting bolder, Tarrlok had to give her praise for variety. It was namely that of dropping her pencil and bending just the right amount to see a flash of her toned posterior, massaging her aching neck with a faint sigh from finishing homework, stretching her body with a soft moan after lying on the sofa lazily, and provocatively licking her fingers free of icing from the leftover cake he brought home. There were numerous, yet smaller advances she took in catching his attention, but what truly got him to pause in his work, nearly giving her a double take, was the piece of erotica she blatantly read in his presence.

 

The familiar cover haunted him, mainly due to the novel that was supposed to be silently perched on his bookcase after years of disuse was now in her hands. The mere implication that Korra deliberately sifted through his belongings was what got him all too conscious of what she was doing.

 

Despite the cliches, the adult book was well written and at times were too raunchy even for his tastes, all revolving around the budding yet forbidden romance of a college professor and his student. Romantic plots and tactics wouldn’t usually grab his attention, but he was curious, and he was on vacation. Tarrlok needed the time to relax, free of any politics, to unwind and settle with something different just to spice up the monotony. But that was exactly why Tarrlok was compelled to burn the book she was reading at the time. He didn’t want her to get any ideas… well, any more ideas than she already has, in any case.

 

Merely opening the door and into the comfort of his estate, Tarrlok was hit with the delicious scent of sugary confections… And, of course, the deafening volume of Korra’s typical taste in music. Predictably enough, it was something fast-paced, something familiar… but wait.

 

No.

 

A musical? Maybe to get into the beginnings of autumn’s month of horror? It was already a week into October, after all. Whatever the reason, he hadn’t heard the old songs in a long while. He was well acquainted with the singing voices coming from the television, only because the musical was shown in nearly every theater and cinema in his teenage years. From eccentric teenagers imitating the production, him and Noatak could recognize the songs in a heartbeat.

 

I’ve tasted blood and I want more. More, more, more!

 

Although slightly bewildered, the music in itself wasn’t unusual, but what got his brows to furrow as he set aside his pointed, leather shoes in its designated corner was the rowdy bout of laughter coming from the kitchen. It was Korra’s unabashed howls, as well as another, more modest feminine tone.

 

Tarrlok cautiously made his way to the threshold of the kitchen, slightly afraid to discover the mess he would inevitably have to clean up.

 

And then he saw it - her body mimicking the moves on the television screen as the movie played in the background, a freshly baked yet half eaten cookie in hand, all while her and her friend exaggeratedly sang along with the musical. Undoubtedly, the scene playing before his eyes was something he did not expect to come home to.

 

Thrill me, chill me, fulfill me. Creature of the night! They sang.

 

It wouldn’t have taken a toll on his exhausted eyes, but his brain cells frayed from the long day in city hall, and witnessing her in those ridiculously scant shorts and baggy shirt was not what he needed implanted in his mind. Loosening his tie, Tarrlok cleared his throat.

 

“Rocky horror?” He questioned, folding his arms across his chest as he leaned against the wall.

 

“Spirits, Tar- dad! Warn a girl,” Korra yelped, the panic radiating from her by the way she nearly slipped their apparent cover. “Wait, why’re you late? Did you have a meeting?”

 

He glanced over her head to read the clock hanging on the wall, it was only nearly five. That was slightly surprising considering the amount of work he finished in city hall.

 

“My apologies, sweetheart. I didn’t know you’d miss me that much. The city needed saving and yet again I’m evidently the only one on the council capable of doing so.” Tarrlok complained passively. He walked past her, setting his keys on the countertop and hanging his satchel on the back of a chair, but he could feel her gaze following each move he made.

 

“Pft, and by that you mean, those old guys gave you all their work because they know how much of a workaholic you are…?” Korra guessed as she tapped her finger against her chin in thought.

 

“I am not,” he denied patiently.

 

“Yeah, I’ll believe that when pigs fly.” She scoffed, swiveling on her bare feet and bending over to check the nearly finished batch of cookies in the oven. With the black shorts she sported, he was sure he’d get an eyeful, but Miss Sato was here, and that was exactly why he resisted the temptation to glance in her direction.

 

“Hello, Mr. Tarrlok.” Korra’s friend spoke up, wiggling her oily, slender fingers in greeting as she placed a ball of dough onto the baking sheet. He opened his mouth to reciprocate the greeting with a bow of his head, but Korra interrupted with a curse.

 

“Shit, erm, yeah, homecoming is tonight and Asami’s gonna help me get ready. I kinda forgot to bring my phone with me to school, so I couldn’t text you.” She said sheepishly, grabbing a discarded oven mitt and braving a glance over her shoulder. He watched her scratch at the back of her neck with a small smile etched on her face.

 

“Do as you please, just don’t make a mess.” He said, pointedly glancing at the clutter on the counter.

 

“You’re such a wet blanket.” Korra pouted. Despite her feigned sad expression, he felt himself gravitating towards her, especially after she bent to grasp onto the scorching pan. There wasn’t a single, coherent thought that formed at the tempting image.

 

Biting the inside of his cheek, Tarrlok cleared his throat once more, stripping himself of his coat and rasped, “Where’s your uncle?”

 

“He said he’ll be ‘out for a few hours’.” She mimicked his brother’s gravelly voice, emphasizing her point with the use of air quotes.

 

“When did he leave?” Tarrlok queried as he leaned against the counter with arms folded across his broad chest, simply observing Korra scrape the baked cookies onto the plate while Miss Sato continued rolling the raw dough into little orbs.

 

“Like an hour ago..?” Korra shrugged disinterestedly. “I don’t know he left a note,” Korra pointed to the crumpled paper on the dining table with her spatula.

 

There were only two options Tarrlok thought of as to where his brother would go, either a bar with Shady Shin or he was meeting with old ‘friends’ that got both of them in that mess thirteen years ago. His brows furrowed, both assumptions were equally plausible, at any rate.

 

“Korra, we’re out of cookie dough.” Her friend breaks his thoughts while Korra moves about the kitchen and places the dirty pan and used utensils into the sink.

 

“That’s fine. We have a lot so it should be plenty while we get ready.” Korra dismisses with a wave of her hand, only for Miss Sato to nod and place the last batch of treats into the oven, beginning the long process of cleaning up.

 

As he leaned against the counter, the hard marble digging into his skin, Tarrlok watched as Korra bit into a tiny, freshly baked cookie. There was nothing suggestive in the act itself, if anything he would’ve labeled it as undignified with the way melted chocolate somehow ended up on her chin, but vivid blue eyes caught his and that stirring unconsciously began once again when he swore he saw the desire creep into those hypnotic irises.

 

“Wanna try, daddy? They’re delicious,” she innocently mumbled over the cookie in the mouth as she sauntered to his tensing form, offering the cookie that she just bit into.

 

Despite Tarrlok knowing she was doing this deliberately, the tingling sensation shot further down his body, threatening to manifest signs that would be rather unbecoming of a father figure. Once she stopped directly in front of his taut body, an idea fanned the flames in his mind. He had to consider this game as an uneven match, there was no balance in what they were doing to one another… But maybe that was the appeal.

 

Rather than remain frozen in his spot and allow her to toy with him further, Tarrlok took her wrist of the hand holding the last bit of the cookie in his long fingered grasp and watched in satisfaction when that cunning glint in Korra’s eyes hastily melted away. Without breaking their intense gaze, she watched as he leaned down until his lips brushed against her fingers, visibly witnessing her unable to decide how to react.

 

Without warning, he released his firm grip on her wrist just in time for the Sato girl to turn around and leave their sensual interaction undetected. He took some gratification in watching her stare at him with wide eyes as he chewed thoughtfully.

 

“You’re right, they are delicious. Thank you, sweetheart.” He said with a smirk, pleasure coloring his voice as he pressed a quick kiss to her temple and walked away from her heated yet shocked gaze to sift through his satchel.

 


 

Korra had to take in the sight before her. Noatak was still gone and Tarrlok sat hunched over the coffee table as he continued working. It wasn’t that that got her to pause before she strode into the living room with more confidence than she actually had, but how he looked.

 

He sat on the sofa, legs spread apart while his elbows were perched near his knees, a paper in one hand while the other twirled a pen. The plate of cookies she offered sat partially touched on the coffee table in front of him. There was nothing abnormal about the image she saw in the living room. Spirits, he even sported the same disheveled yet composed and comfortable appearance in his suit: tie loosened and the first button of his shirt undone, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows.

 

What’s wrong with her? She must’ve been exceptionally horny to get the subtle pulsing in her body to begin from the mere sight of him, at any rate.

 

Taking a deep breath, Korra tightened her grasp on the neck of the bottle and sauntered past him.

 

“You’re still working?” She asked as she placed the bottle on the countertop and opened the cabinet with wine glasses.

 

“Mhm,” he hummed in confirmation disinterestedly. But with all the clinking of glasses with one another, his attention easily drifted from his papers to her stretched body.

 

Of course, Korra did this intentionally. With the extra short shorts and the baggy shirt that lifted a fraction as she stretched, she was hoping he’d watch her intently, even from his position on the sofa. And he did just that. It produced a tiny thrill in her that nearly manifested with a triumphant smirk curving her lips, but she refrained from letting it show. “What are you doing? And why do you have a bottle of wine?” He questioned with furrowed brows.

 

“Geez, relax, gramps. Have you never been a teenager before?” Korra accused, lacking the venom with the flash of mirth crossing her cerulean eyes as she popped the cork out of it’s tight spot.

 

“Korra, you’re underage. And isn’t Miss Sato driving you to the little dance?” Tarrlok asked as she began pouring the red liquid into three wine glasses.

 

“So? We’re not leaving for another few hours and it’s not like we’re gonna down the whole bottle… Besides, you didn’t seem to have any issues with it when Noatak first came over.” She shrugged nonchalantly and glanced at him over the bottle.

 

“I-That’s besides the point.” He stammered, pinching the bridge of his nose.

 

“Then what exactly is your point?” Korra challenged, deftly holding all three glasses and sauntered to his increasingly tense body on the couch.

 

“Korra,” he began.

 

Dad ,” she mimicked his serious tone. That nickname sure got his attention judging from the way he glanced at her, watching her place one of the glasses near his plate of cookies on the coffee table.

 

“That better not come from my collection. Those cost me a small fortune.” He weakly threatened while she moved behind him. Korra could feel the mixture of hesitancy and curiosity radiating from the taut man, and it only further intrigued her to push him to his limits.

 

Biting her lip, she bent down and loosely wrapped her arms around his neck, ascertaining the wine in her grasp wouldn’t spill onto his tailored shirt, and almost allowed her body to manifest the pleasurable shiver that coursed through her veins.

 

“Calm down, it’s Asami’s.” Korra whispered, making sure to have her lips graze the shell of his ear in the process. “Like I said, just relax.” She pressed a light and provoking kiss to his cheek. Without waiting another second, Korra released him and skillfully swayed her hips as she walked away, knowing full well he was watching her with lust burning in those icy orbs.

 

—-

 

Korra never had a friend over to doll her up. The only experience she had with something somewhat similar to that was the caretakers at the orphanage making sure she was ready for school on time. But with Asami here - the two of them leisurely sprawled on the floor of her room with music softly playing in the background, her friend’s box of beauty and hair products laid stacked in front of them, and Naga watching them with sleepy eyes from her spot on Korra’s bed - she didn’t know if the warmth she felt was from content or from actually having a friend that didn’t want to use her for their benefit… or the fact that she was horny as all hell, but that's besides the point.

 

Staring at the red liquid in her grasp, Korra couldn’t help the tiniest of smiles curve her lips. As much as she hated it, Korra’s glad that the man downstairs adopted her… despite the complications with lust that’s been brewing between them each passing day.

 

“Cheers to you making the volleyball team!” Asami cheered, raising her half filled wine glass to clink with Korra’s.

 

“It’s really not that big of a deal, Asami.” Korra shrugged indifferently, meeting Asami’s glass half way before the black haired beauty took a sip from her own and leaned back from her position on the floor.

 

It was something to celebrate over, but volleyball wasn’t necessarily on her mind at the moment. Of course, that didn’t mean she was not elated for making the team. And Asami was right when she first met her, the team did need all the help they could get, and it was unmistakingly going to be difficult in helping all the team members out without burning herself to a crisp from exhaustion.

 

Asami’s face fell from a cheery smile to that of feigned boredom in a matter of seconds. “Fine, I take it all back. You can do your makeup and hair on your own.” She threatened without any real venom, already sneaking a hand to grasp onto Korra’s glass.

 

“No, no, no!” Korra moved her glass of wine out of Asami’s reach playfully.

 

“That’s what I thought.” Asami giggled, perching her glass on the bedside table. Her viridian eyed friend wobbled on her knees as she made her way to Korra’s back, running her fingers through her wavy hair. “Alright, hair up or down?” She queried.

 

“Down.” Korra blurted with closed eyes as Asami rifled through her box of cosmetics.

 

“Anything specific for makeup?” She wondered. At the sound of her friend searching for whatever it was she was looking for, Korra cracked an eye open in curiosity. Spirits, she closed her eyes for a mere second and the rather intimidating display of all types of brushes splayed onto her floor magically appeared. Cerulean eyes widened further as she caught a glance into the container filled with makeup.

 

Letting out a nervous laugh, Korra scratched at the back of her head. “Surprise me. Out of the two of us, you’re the expert.” She shrugged.

 

“That’s actually true.” She agreed with a nod of her head. Within a matter of seconds, her viridian eyed friend abruptly tensed, nearly dropping a bottle of something called ‘primer’ from her grasp. “Question: do you have a thong?” Asami froze with more intensity than Korra had ever thought she would possess.

 

“Asami!” She whined with a growing blush.

 

“What? It’s an actual question. And don’t act so shocked, I know what goes on in that dirty mind of yours, pervert.” Asami defended with amusement laced in her voice, propping her hands sassily on her hips.

 

Korra let out a suffering sigh, feeling her blush grow even hotter on her face, but she couldn’t help crack the tiniest of smiles and practically glare at her friend. “Yeah, I do.” She muttered grumpily.

 

“Wear it, you don’t want ugly panty lines with the dress you’re wearing, especially if Mr. Nobody’s gonna see you.” Asami continued on, happily and deliberately ignoring Korra’s discomfort with a knowing smirk growing across her beautiful face.

 

“Spirits,” she groaned, nearly face-palming in dread, but was stopped from doing so by the soft touch of Asami’s fingertips swiping over her skin… and the weirdly smooth goop that spread easily.

 

“He will be seeing you tonight, right?” Asami questioned as Korra closed her eyes at the soothing touch.

 

“Mhm,” Korra hummed in confirmation, no need to further elaborate.

 

“By the way, how is that going? You haven’t said anything about it since you asked me. Any news?” The black haired beauty queried as she grasped onto one of the several brushes and swept cool, light liquid over her skin.

 

“Well… Good news or bad news first?” Korra cracked an eye open. It wasn’t necessarily terrible news that was hitting her in the ass, but Asami already helped her this far, so talking to her wouldn’t hurt, right? As long as she doesn’t slip up, everything would be fine. Hopefully.

 

“Good,” Asami blurted.

 

“To put it bluntly, he’s taking the bait, maybe even accepting it to another level…” Korra thought aloud, tapping her fingertip in an unspoken rhythm on the delicate glass as her other hand hugged a pillow within her vicinity. It was specifically that of nearly an hour ago when he ate the last of her cookie from her grasp. Spirits, the way his lips grazed her fingertips, the predatory look on his face, all of it almost brought another thrill of shivers through her veins.

 

“Hey, didn’t I say men like a dominant woman?” Asami said triumphantly.

 

“Yeah, he definitely likes it judging from the looks he’s been giving me.” She spoke up matter-of-factly. Korra recalled their interactions over the week, watching his face quickly yet discreetly change from his usual composed demeanor to one of hunger when she toyed with him. Undoubtedly, it was fun, but intentionally trying to break that poised facade of his to get him riled up into a frenzy was definitely not something she expected to actually work, something that would actually get him to reciprocate in.

 

“Then what’s the bad news?” The beauty asked warily as she blotted powder onto her face and deftly filled in Korra’s brows.

 

“Well, as expected, I feel like an idiot when I’m trying to do anything remotely sexy or subtle.” She mumbles, tightening her hold on one of the many throw pillows that fell from her bed. Sure it was working, but it doesn’t change the fact that she feels silly when she does something that crosses the safety border and into risque territory.

 

“Don’t sweat it. With a little practice, you could have him begging in a matter of seconds.” Asami encouraged, flipping her hair back over her shoulder and pulled away to inspect her work on Korra’s brows.

 

“Really?” Korra asked incredulously, glancing at her friend doubtfully. She could see it happening with her friend… but herself? Korra’s surprised that this was even working at all, considering her lack of subtlety and seduction skills, but to have him begging. Nahh! That would never happen with Korra.

 

As much as she would love to have that happen, Korra seriously doubts it would ever come to that point between her and Tarrlok. She’d probably lose all sense of self-restraint, as well as he would too, if she teased and toyed with him to near insanity.

 

“Yeah, you want me to help you?” Asami suggested with a shrug of her shoulder, a growing smile as she met Korra’s gaze.

 

She was hesitant. “Erm… sure..? If it isn’t too much to ask.” Korra agreed cautiously. Of course, she’d be reluctant to do this, it’s only been a week since she put this provocative plan into action. At this rate, she had a feeling one of them would break soon. Whether it was her or Tarrlok, Korra did not know. But she did know that she was absolutely sure she wasn’t ready for any sort of confrontation with the man.

 

“I’m guessing you two haven’t done much if you’ve been asking me?” Asami drawled in question as she picked up another brush and a palette filled with neutral colors.

 

“Yeah, just teasing.” Korra spoke up and closed her eyes before her friend brushed a light shadow over her lids.

 

“So… you guys haven’t kissed yet?” Asami asked with a teasing glint in her pleasant voice.

 

Korra kept quiet for a few moments, thinking over the two times her and Tarrlok nearly kissed. Why did Noatak have to walk in? Why did that group of tourists have to interrupt, laughing like no tomorrow? “Erm, well, we were about to… twice.” She said almost inaudibly.

 

“Korra! And you deprived me of this information!” Asami smacked her shoulder playfully with a mouth wide open. Korra flinched in response and nearly spilt her glass of wine as she held up her hands in defense. Naga on the other hand propped her head up in alert at the sound.

 

“It’s not all rainbows, Asami! Why do you think I’ve been asking you for advice?” Korra laughs as she smacks her friend in the arm with the pillow pressed against her front.

 

With her jaw dropped in amusement and shock, Asami laughed at Korra’s expression and held her hands up. “Okay, okay, well, where to begin? Since you two are practically starting out, learn more about his preferences. Like if he mentioned anything of a particular fantasy, tease him about it, then later on, play it out. You know, turn him on, surprise him.” She said smoothly, finishing the wash of light eyeshadow under Korra’s eye.

 

Korra listened to her in awe, slightly amazed at this profound side of Asami she only saw an inkling of the last time she asked her about love advice. “Hmm,” she hummed in thought.

 

“What?” Her friend asked curiously and began her work with a thin wing of eyeliner.

 

Korra shrugged faintly, careful to stay frozen under Asami’s steady hand. “Just thinking if he’d like some things I have in mind.” A smile quirked on her lips.

 

She assumed Asami was waiting for her to continue, but Korra remained stubbornly quiet. Instead, she thought of ways that could reduce the man undoubtedly still working to a pleasurable mess. He was already responding to her, considering their age gap and their roles within the family, so maybe along the lines of something taboo. Was that what he preferred? She reasoned he did have that book about a professor and his college student. And that was hard enough to read through the sex scenes with a burning blush next to him or laying in his lap… decisions, decisions.

 

But with a click of her tongue, Asami pondered the silence between them. “You’re not going to elaborate?”

 

“Nope.” Korra smiled in satisfaction as Asami finished one eye with a flick of her wrist.

 

“C’mon, Korra.” Asami whined, sitting back on her feet and grasped onto her glass to take a sip of the wine.

 

“Nope.” Korra repeated smugly, taking a sip of her own drink as Asami glared at her over the rim and nearly let out a growl of frustration. Well, that is until Korra easily dodged a pillow that her friend aimed at her head.

 

Gasping in astonishment, Korra perched her glass of wine on her bedside table and prepared for the battle she was not going to lose.

 


 

Laughter was heard from her room and Tarrlok had never been so terribly curious of what the two could be talking about. He had an inkling it had to do with him, but maybe he was just paranoid. Little yelps were heard every so often, and the following bouts of laughter had his eyes shifting in the direction of the stairs with interest. It’s not his place to be so overly curious. He’s supposed to be her father, not her overprotective partner.

 

Spirits, why was he thinking about this?

 

Dropping the paper in his grasp and rubbing his hands over his exhausted face, Tarrlok let out a sigh. It had been a long day and listening to those mocking laughs and feeling those provoking kisses and deliberately playing out a teasing line with her was nearly enough for him to hunch over the table in taut frustration, the vague warmth pulsing through his veins.

 

Standing from his spot on the sofa, Tarrlok took a deep inhale and grabbed his lighter and pack of cigarettes. He needed to be away from those shrieks of mirth, away from the circling image of Korra’s dress that she deliberately hid from his inquisitive eyes.

 

Tarrlok strode out to the backyard, perching himself on the edge of a table in thought as he distractedly switches his lighter to spark a flame and lights a cigarette until it’s butt glows orange in the dim outdoors. The sun was almost completely out of sight, the lingering pink and purple hues still present while the darkness of night came to bathe the city with stars and a crescent moon.

 

A crescent moon. Tarrlok recalled a disturbingly quiet night in his youth. Both he and Noatak sat in silence outside on the wooden swing their father built when they were mere children, before their father turned into a monster. He remembered feeling disgusted at the sight. Granted, almost everything his father touched got Tarrlok to shiver with aversion. As the brothers gazed out at the crescent moon, he remembered feeling his muscles loosen after too long being taut, the occasional tremor shaking him to the core from the repeated strikes.

 

Shaking himself of the horrid memory, Tarrlok averts his eyes to his garden. It’s already in the past, he shouldn’t be thinking about such sufferings when he was surrounded by his lavish lifestyle.

 

Breathing in the nicotine loosened his tense muscles. Every breath he took he felt more at ease, well, more at ease than he normally could with Korra’s blatant flirting and Noatak’s general presence that only repeatedly reminds him of that dreadful night.

 

Closing stinging eyes, Tarrlok exhaled a cloud of smoke, allowing the cooling wind to brush his smooth skin. He was determined to feel as relaxed as he could, considering he hadn’t obtained a night like that in too long.

 

He sat there for what felt like an hour, but in reality, it was only a mere few minutes. Finishing up his cigarette, Tarrlok pressed the remaining bits into an ashtray nearby, feeling his body react to the nicotine in his system.

 

As he strode into his estate once again, rather than being greeted with barks of laughter, it was eerily quiet. He would’ve ventured to guess the two already left without bidding him a goodbye, but as he climbed each marble step, Tarrlok heard the soft muffles of music playing in the background. Although he moved past the closed door, pale blue eyes strayed on the warm light seeping through the cracks.

 

Stop this! He reprimanded himself, tearing his eyes away from the fine wood and striding almost grumpily into his office. He needed to focus. He’s been telling himself that for the few weeks this began and he could only scoff bitterly at how far the two of them were taking this. Sifting through his drawer, Tarrlok found the few files that connected with the project he was abruptly given on such short notice, grabbed them and promptly closed the wood with a bump of his hip.

 

Already scanning the papers, Tarrlok made his way down the stairs, only to be stopped short at the sound of the front door closing with a harsh click.

 

Glancing up at the noise, he visibly slumped in his poised stance and boredly commented, “Oh, you’re home.”

 

“It’s good to know your eyesight isn’t deteriorating, brother.” Noatak rasped coolly, the mild glare pointedly directed at Tarrlok.

 

He would let that go for tonight, not only because he was exhausted, but also due to the fact that Tarrlok was more curious of what he did rather than prod at him with useless ridicules.

 

“Korra said you’d be out for a few hours.” Tarrlok spoke up as he met his brother at the bottom of the grandiose stairs, two files of papers still in his one-handed grasp.

 

“Yes, I’m well aware I said precisely that.” Noatak said in slight annoyance, kicking off his shoes to the corner of the foyer.

 

“...And?” Tarrlok encouraged.

 

“If you’re asking if I spent the last two and a half hours with old friends, you're wrong. I needed to think.” His brother sighed and easily brushed past Tarrlok to the living room.

 

Tarrlok followed. “There’s only two places that come to mind when you say that, Noatak.” He insinuated all too seriously as his brother plopped himself onto the plush sofa with a sigh.

 

Noatak let out an unnerving chuckle, the sound sending dread down Tarrlok’s spine. “I just went to a bar, brother. I didn’t corrupt a young woman’s cunt like someone wants to do to a certain teenager.” He challenged with a grotesque smirk growing on his aged features.

 

“I do not!” Tarrlok denied almost too quickly.

 

As he stood there, blatantly glaring at his brother’s relaxed form, the smirk only widened on Noatak’s mouth as the silence between them lengthened.

 

“You know, I find it odd that you’re able to manipulate and lie your way up the political ladder, yet you’re so easily moved when you’re faced with lust.” Noatak said steadily, observing Tarrlok’s demeanor for any reaction. When there was none and they were greeted with a heavy silence, just a deadpan expression and furrowed brows from the taut man, Noatak’s brow twitched. “What, no snarky comeback? No defensive remarks?” He questioned.

 

“No, I acknowledged that.” Tarrlok almost growls.

 

“Good, better to know what you’re doing is fucked up rather than remain blissfully ignorant.” Noatak yawned disinterestedly and grabbed onto the remote as Tarrlok warily returned to his spot on the sofa. This was surely something he needed to stop before it got too much out of hand. But then again, he’d repeatedly chanted the ramifications in his mind and he had yet to refuse any advances she prodded him with. Maybe the situation was already out of his control.

 

—-

 

With the sun long gone and the night crawling to its peak, Tarrlok was restless. There was no other way to put it. Before she mentioned that silly dance, he didn’t realize it had been exactly two weeks since she bought that dress she deliberately hid from him, since their bout of anger that had him driving to the nearest convenience store to purchase her feminine needs, since the feelings of lust began to sprout from the ground.

 

There had been so much that happened over the two weeks that it seemed like a lifetime ago.

 

Pacing back and forth, his eyes repeatedly strayed on the closed door taunting him. He knew what hid behind that door, he knew she was going to intentionally rile him up, just to leave him with nothing but the image of a suggestive dress wrapped around her body. His mind tried to remember any hint she could’ve given him, but nothing came. Instead, he filled the large gap in his imagination.

 

But just as the picture of Korra in a striking black dress began to conjure in his mind, Noatak’s raspy voice grunted in a complaint. “Brother, stop looking so nervous, it’s repulsive.”

 

Tarrlok growled in irritation. He didn’t know what to feel. Over the two weeks, his curiosity waned, merely pushing the thought to the back of his mind as other distressing events were nearly shoved to the front.

 

“I can’t help that she’s been teasing me with this dress for two weeks… amongst other things… In any case, of course, I’d be damn nervous, you and her little friend are here.” He ran a hand through his hair distractedly.

 

“Little friend?” Noatak queried, genuinely confused as Tarrlok ceased his restless pacing.

 

Letting out a sigh, he mumbled a blunt, “Sato’s daughter.”

 

“Tch, small world, this is.” Noatak shook his head in disbelief. He was right, at any rate. Throughout the life he deliberately created in Republic City, Tarrlok had no intention of hearing that last name again. But, of course, fate had taken its course as it always had.

 

“Precisely,” he said blandly.

 

As if on cue, the sound of a door creaking open and harsh clicks on marble meet the brothers’ ears. It was a steady yet intimidating beat, something that promptly got those tumultuous thoughts to drive away. Glancing over Noatak’s shoulder, Tarrlok’s eyes widened a fraction, immediately feeling his pulse hasten.

 

Noatak watched his brother’s face instantly shift from irritation to perplexity. Curiosity bested him and glanced over his shoulder to follow Tarrlok’s line of sight. Despite her technically being a part of the family now, something Tarrlok as well as Korra evidently hadn’t taken to heart, Noatak did have to give her credit for that piece of shiny material, for it certainly would heinously adhere to the fragments of his imagination, something he didn’t ask for.

 

Swallowing over a suddenly dry throat, Tarrlok’s face hardened to one of indifference as he easily met vivid cerulean orbs twinkling with a hidden joke he did not understand.

 

Tarrlok thought he was in need of an ambulance just from the sight of her. With his jaw clenched, arms locked in a fold over his chest, and rapidly heating body, Tarrlok could only stand there beside his brother and silently watch in something akin to awe and desire as Korra descended from the grand staircase, the Sato girl trailing behind.

 

Seven hells, Korra looked stunning. Her brown hair was straightened from their natural waves and grazed the middle of her back, light makeup dusted her cheeks and eyelids to enhance her beauty rather than mask it, undoubtedly Miss Sato’s doing. And by the spirits, that dress, a dress that clung to her curvaceous figure all too flatteringly. It was certainly something Tarrlok did not expect her to wear. It was no wonder that she was acting coy that night she went out with her friends. The baby blue material matched her gleaming irises that carefully watched his face for any reaction.

 

He tried to keep his eyes trained on her face, but he couldn’t stop them from roving over her body every few seconds. She looked delectable. Her breasts nearly spilled from their confines, her hips swayed tantalizingly as she sauntered down the marble steps, the shiny material stopped mid-thigh to reveal smooth, toned legs balanced from a simple pair of black heels. Despite her awkward footing - evidently, she was still getting used to wearing heels rather than her leather shoes - she still held confidence in their locked gazes, no matter how small it wavered.

 

There was a mumble from his side, but Tarrlok couldn’t be swayed.

 

Blood roared in his ears, barely registering Noatak’s offhand comment about the Sato girl’s dress as he eyed her critically. How could he be focused on her when Korra, a mere seventeen year old, his adopted daughter, was practically clad to give a misbehaving boy a good whipping? And it was precisely that that instantly produced a heated thrill down his spine, stirring his lower abdomen pleasantly and threatening to manifest just how much he relished the mere sight of her.

 

He was disgusted with himself, disgusted that he found her so attractive, disgusted that even if his mind disagreed, his body had no qualms in accepting such risque advances. He couldn’t take his eyes off her, and she must’ve noticed with the subtle sultry smirk that curved her nude painted lips.

 

It wasn’t until she waltzed up to his front that he felt every bit of heat radiating from her body, the smugness nearly rolling in waves. She were about to prop dainty hands on the harsh curve of her hips, but Miss Sato’s hand on her shoulder told her of secret language he had no intention of learning. All he could do was stand there with his jaw clenched tightly, and Noatak must have been watching him closely from the way he cleared his throat and broke the deafening silence.

 

“You look stunning, kiddo.” Noatak commented, although there was a notable lack of emotion in his statement.

 

“Thanks, Uncle Noatak. Although, this was all Asami… she helped me with, well, basically everything.” Both of the brothers’ icy eyes followed her hands as she glanced down at her body and smoothed the fine latex.

 

Despite the both of them watching Korra, Noatak recovered easily, disinterestedly, promptly shifting his attention to the young woman next to her. “I presume you are Asami?” He rasped and weaved a hand through his short hair.

 

“Uh huh, Asami Sato.” The girl outstretched her hand in greeting as the other tucked a stray black strand behind her ear.

 

“Noatak, Korra’s uncle.” Noatak says smoothly. He shook her hand almost too innocently, but Tarrlok knew his brother all too well, that he was assessing the young woman and already scheming for who-knows-what.

 

“Charmed,” she smiled politely and awkwardly clasped her hands to her front, a growing flush coloring her pale cheeks.

 

“So, how do I look, dad?” She questioned, pleasure coloring her voice as a sweet smile was plastered onto her face. She knew this was affecting him, but he’d never give her the pleasure in confirming such knowledge.

 

Nearly shaking his head in disappointment at how easily she swayed him, he stared in challenge at those orbs glinting with laughter in the warm light. His brother was right. It was odd that he managed to climb the political ladder with manipulation and deceit and careful persuasion, but was practically stripped of all that deftness when it came to the young woman standing in front of him. What was even stranger was the fact that he had never been so easily affected by feminine charms.

 

Seven hells, the women he had been with practically threw themselves in his bed, lounging around in the most expensive lingerie, yet he had never felt this palpable intensity of an intangible pull.

 

Taking a deep breath in, he composed himself with a diplomatic smirk. “You look spectacular, sweetheart.” Tarrlok said coolly, almost too confident that it had Korra narrowing her bright eyes a fraction. He didn’t dwell on it too much, couldn’t stray on the thought that he conjured some rationality in his clouded mind and glanced down at her bare arms. One hand was propped on her hip sassily while the other laid limp at her side.

 

“Aren’t you missing something?” He questioned smugly with a twitch in his brow as her demeanor slightly fell.

 

From his stance, he could see Noatak discreetly scrutinizing the Sato girl while she hastily moved her thumbs in what he presumed was a conversation from the corner of his eyes.

 

“...I am?” She asked cautiously, nearly braving a glance down at her body once more, but immediately stopped when his voice changed to that of a school teacher.

 

“Jacket, Korra.” He said bluntly, lids lowering heavily.

 

That produced an exaggerated roll of her eyes, the smile only widening further. Whether it was due to their facade of biological father and daughter or his protective nature with exactly why she needed a jacket, Tarrlok didn’t know.

 

“You’re so paranoid, dad.” She dismissed in passing, sauntering to the lonesome coat rack in the corner of the foyer and grasped onto his light coat, folding it over her forearm. The same coat he draped over her shoulders when they paid a visit to Harmony Tower. Not necessarily the jacket he had in mind, considering it was a coat - because yes, there is a difference - but the mirth swimming in her eyes told him he should keep his mouth shut, something he rarely did.

 

“Korra, we should get going before Mako and Bolin start sending out search parties. They’re already riding my ass for being late.” The girl said softly, wiggling her phone to show Korra.

 

“Right,” Korra shook her head sheepishly, Miss Sato already making a move towards the front door. But instead of following her friend, Korra strode to his front, grasping at his bicep and stretching herself to the tips of her toes.

 

He would’ve thought she were going to whisper into his ear with how close they were, but immediately tensed at the soft feeling of her lips against his cheek once again. “Bye, daddy.” She pulled away with that self-assured smirk lining her lips.

 

“Have fun, sweetheart.” He mumbled as steadily as he could before she followed the Sato girl, the two waving in goodbye and closed the door behind their retreating bodies. With the final click of the locks, the estate went completely silent between the brothers. Except for the soft taps of Naga’s paws languidly making her way to his side.

 

It wasn’t until the headlights of Miss Sato’s car glared off the glass of the front door that Noatak let out an unnerving cackle.

 

Tarrlok glanced at his brother with brows furrowed in vexation. What in all hells did he find so entertaining about this situation? Faintly shaking his head, Noatak cleared his throat when he felt Tarrlok’s glowering gaze on him. He was undeniably tickled, that much was evident.

 

As the occasional snicker shook his shoulders, Tarrlok waited for an explanation, his patience thinning.

 

Just as he nearly had enough of Noatak’s asinine behavior, he stopped Tarrlok with that grotesque grin still plastered on his face. “Daddy? Sweetheart?” He asked bluntly.

 

Tarrlok let out a long, suffering exhale, attempting to reel in the patience that he practically relinquished.

 

“If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve presumed you two relish the roles you’ve created for yourselves. It’s rather uncanny.” Noatak continued, unbothered.

 

“The Sato girl doesn’t know, Korra doesn’t want her to know.” He glared at his brother past a half lidded gaze.

 

“Hmm,” Noatak hummed in thought, his eyes narrowing as they squinted to observe Tarrlok closely.

 

“What?” He nearly spat impatiently.

 

He didn’t have time for Noatak’s childish games, not when Naga needed to be fed, not when his papers needed tending to, and certainly not when the image of Korra’s toned body wrapped in latex was still fresh in his mind.

 

“Nothing, merely entertained by the fact that she knows how to push your buttons.” Noatak chuckled as he harshly smacked his large palm to Tarrlok’s shoulder, striding past his seething body and into the living room. Tarrlok growled, incensed, and patted at his thigh for Naga to follow him.

 


 

The entrance was a little too dramatic, a little too over-the-top for Korra’s tastes. Sure, the theme was cliche and much too cheesy - a night under city lights , naturally, which was odd considering they were in the city - but did the school really have to be this dramatic? Korra expected this for prom, but homecoming?

 

Specks of black and white colored the entrance to the auditorium, a small booth settled perfectly in the middle while Mr. Tenzin and Mrs. Pema checked the student body in.

 

The pulsing of muffled music could be heard seeping from the gym and Korra didn’t know if she should be excited to experience homecoming for the first time or dread the inevitable sight of people grotesquely grinding against one another. The lines blurred and she stood frozen in her spot in line, contemplating whether this was a good idea or not. It wasn’t too late to back out, right? Granted, if she returned to the estate, the dress would undoubtedly be put to waste… unless she came up with an impromptu way to use it against Tarrlok.

 

Smoothing a hand down the sleek material of her dress, Asami gently grasped onto her shoulder and guided her forward in the line. Spirits, she felt so out of place. Everyone looked as though they matched the theme, all cohesive and romantic, glinting with glamour, while she herself appeared as though she were going to dominate any guy that flirted with her. Despite the vague feeling of tons of eyes straying on her form, Korra took a deep breath in, gathering as much courage and willpower she possessed to get through the night without dreading this anymore than she already had, and tilted her head high.

 

Straightening her spine, Korra stepped forward. Well, it’s now or never.

Chapter Text

Pounding music, flashing lights, and the smell of sweat. To say the whole experience of homecoming thus far grated on Korra’s nerves was an understatement. As much as she was outgoing with friends, she couldn’t distinguish the difference between the student body as a group of teenagers to those of club goers of recently-turned twenty-one year olds. Walking alongside Asami, Korra was silently thankful that this was her first and last appearance at homecoming. Sure, she loved her friends, they haven’t given her a reason to be too wary of them, in any case, but she felt this night was going to drag for too long, especially when that subtle thrumming persistently stirred her lower abdomen.

 

Easily dodging excitable freshmen, Korra observed the whole scene splayed before her eyes. Half the population of the school was either jumping around to the music or grinding against one another grotesquely, while the other half let the cooling autumn air chill their skin at the outdoor tables.

 

Much to Korra’s relief, Asami lead her to the tables, passing the booth of pastries splayed enticingly. With straying eyes, she observed the platters filled with sweets upon sweets. Bowls filled with candy, brownies and cookies and whatnot stacked upon one another while the a chocolate fountain and dishes of juicy fruit occupied the center of the table. She duly noted to pay a visit before the night ended.

 

With the crescent moon high above them, Korra prayed to the spirits above that the stagnant pressure in the lower part of her body would diminish. It’s not that she didn’t want to think about it. Of course, she wanted to think it. How could she not? The man occupying her thoughts hovering above her with hunger in those piercing irises, but she needed to calm down lest she’ll explode and take out her frustration onto her friends.

 

She doesn’t think they would appreciate that, anyways.

 

She must have been too preoccupied with her lingering thoughts that she didn’t notice both her and Asami were pointedly directing themselves to the table with the brothers lounging comfortably in their seats.

 

“Hot damn! You two don’t leave any beauty for the rest of us!” Bolin hollered as glowing green eyes roved over her and Asami’s figures.

 

Korra giggled, she had to agree with Bolin, in any case. She couldn’t deny that both her and her friend looked hotter than the flames of hell because she’d be lying if she did. As much as this dress was absurd, she couldn’t recant the feeling of confidence that coursed through her veins. Thanks to Asami, that is.

 

While she wore her baby blue latex dress, Asami adorned a simple obsidian silk gown - a plunging neckline that showcased the alluring contour of her breasts, the fabric cinched at her waist and fell wistfully around her legs. A slit dissected the silk until it ended high on her thigh while she unveiled her pale back for the school to see. A golden necklace dangled around the white column of her neck as a pair of obsidian heels wrapped around her dainty feet.

 

“Hey… you two.” Korra greeted a lot less enthusiastically than her skittish friend. She narrowed her eyes as she glanced back and forth between Bolin and Mako. They sure were going for the monochromatic look today. Plain black suits that were practically identical to one another, except Mako had that red scarf of his around his neck.

 

“Ugh! It feels like I haven’t seen you guys in forever!” Bolin groaned exaggeratedly, smoothing his hair back as he stood from his seat. Asami already knew what he was about to do and immediately pointed to his chair in a slight scold.

 

It was odd yet amusing to see Bolin act so obediently to Asami, considering he constantly spun her around whenever he detected her lingering somewhere in their vicinity. What amused her was he never laid a finger on Korra. Besides the first time he tried to lift her, he never attempted it again unless he favored the ‘black eye’ look.

 

“Bo, it’s only been a day.” Mako spoke up and lifted a brow in disbelief. He reclined himself comfortably in his chair and flicked at the pieces of confetti splayed on the table and ground of the outdoors. That sure was a nice touch to the rather bleak white cloth adorning the table.

 

“Exactly my point!” His brother cried incredulously with wide arms.

 

“Right,” Mako rolled golden irises skyward.

 

Korra couldn’t help cracking a smile at the brothers. It’s undeniably adorable with the way the act with each other. It’s somewhat similar to Tarrlok and Noatak. Maybe it’s just naturally the way people act with a sibling..? No. That can’t be it. She’d seen siblings in passing hate each other to the point of slapping or clawing them. Maybe it’s something that forms when trauma ensues at such a young age. Korra couldn’t decide and rather preferred not touch on the topic anyhow.

 

“So, you guys planning on dancing?” Asami asked with a hand on her hip.

 

“Duh, but after I raid the food booth first.” Bolin responded with a dopey smile curving his lips before Mako even had a chance to open his mouth.

 

Tapping a painted finger to her chin in contemplation, Asami questioned, “Isn’t that a terrible - wait, nevermind, it’s Bolin I’m talking to,” she said smugly.

 

Gasping in exaggerated offense, Bolin yelped a, “Hey! What’s that supposed to mean?” Folding his muscular arms across his chest with a huff, he puffed his lower lip in a pout. Sweet mercy… he was undeniably adorable, considering he appeared as though he were a little boy throwing a tantrum over something so trivial. Asami merely shrugged in response, an amused smile curving her colored lips when he let out sigh, visibly slumping in his seat. “Sit, sit, you guys are making me uncomfortable just standing around.” He muttered hastily.

 

Grinning at her friend’s dismay, Korra sat in the chair directly in front of her, purposely placing herself closer to Asami than Mako. It was just a precautionary measure, she reasoned, lest he says something suggestive again and she actually succeeds in kicking him this time around. She hasn’t forgiven him for what he unleashed two weeks ago. If he hadn’t said anything, Korra could’ve remained blissfully ignorant, could’ve potentially formed a father-daughter bond between her and Tarrlok. But even as she tried to imagine the scenario, tried to convince herself, the mere thought of Tarrlok truly being her father figure continuously gave her chills of aversion.

 

That could never happen. Even before this confuddled mess began, Korra didn't see him as father, but moreso an older, stupidly handsome roommate of some sort. Besides, they’re already too deep into what sprouted from their garden of lust to actually presume they could take it all away and perceive each other as an adopted daughter and adoptive father.

 

“So what were you guys talking about?” Mako asks in indifference.

 

“Oh, uhh, nothing really, just volleyball.” Korra lies. Well, half lie technically. They were talking about volleyball, but Asami seemed more interested in her so-called ‘uncle’.

 

“Congrats about that, by the way.” Bolin interrupted, pointing his finger towards her.

 

“Thanks,” she said awkwardly. Just like many times in the past, all eyes were on her and she hated every second of it. But a soft snort from her left was heard and Asami broke into the conversation.

 

“Volleyball? Please.” The black haired beauty rolled her viridian eyes and leaned back into her chair. “You guys don’t know how jealous I am that she comes from a family filled with hot men.” Asami managed a brief giggle, pointing her thumb towards Korra.

 

“Asami!” Korra snapped in feigned disgust, a blush slowly creeping up her neck. Asami was right, in any case, but no one needed to know about that, especially when they didn’t know she wasn’t actually related to the two.

 

Bolin rubbed his hands together mischievously, a bizarre grin gracing his lips. “Oh ho ho, what happened?” He asked all too enthusiastically. Evidently, he was interested, but Korra very nearly smacked the boy upside the head with the suggestive look he sent to her and Asami.

 

Repulsed, Korra visibly cringed, momentarily pinching the bridge of her nose to relieve the growing ache she felt creeping in her head. “Can you two stop? It’s disgusting.”

 

“What? I’m just telling the truth.” Asami defended with hands held up.

 

Abruptly, she caught herself doing exactly what the man persistently occupying her thoughts did when her or Noatak got on his nerves. Spirits, even their habits were unintentionally intermingling with one another.

 

That’s not the only thing that’s going to intermingle between you two. That tormenting voice quipped.

 

“Aren’t you taken now?” Korra hastily spoke up, deliberately ignoring the voice that practically waggled her brows suggestively if she had a physical form.

 

“So? I can’t look?” Asami questioned innocently.

 

“Asami!” Korra snapped once again, lightly smacking her friend on the shoulder. This was all kinds of wrong. All she wanted to do was hide under a rock and shake her head that Asami actually said that.

 

“I’m joking,” her friend barked in laughter. “Well, not really, I am serious about the whole hot family thing. Anyway, yeah, Korra’s dad and her uncle, they’re really good looking.” She continued with a twitch of her brow and a knowing smirk lining her red painted lips.

 

“What about the fact that you’re dating Iroh? Isn’t he attractive enough for you?” Korra chirped patiently, tapping her fingers on the cloth covered table.

 

“Oh, don’t get me wrong, he’s really handsome and I wouldn’t mind if he wanted to do some things to me, if you know what I mean, but it’s kinda like your situation right now. We’re in the beginning stages so the tension is gradually building up. Eye candy isn’t against the law, anyways. And besides, knowing that it annoys you makes it all the more fun.” She grinned as Korra narrowed blue eyes. She knew she was just trying to get a reaction out of her, but regardless, witnessing that monstrosity between her friend and Tarrlok is more than disgusting, more than she ever wanted and needed to see in her lifetime.

 

Suddenly, Mako froze. His golden eyes met with his brother’s green ones. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Rewind. You’re dating someone?” Mako asked incredulously. That sure got his attention.

 

“Yeah, what Mako said.” Bolin agreed.

 

To the spirits above, Korra could feel the heat rising to her cheeks inch by inch as the brothers gazed at her in intense scrutiny, waiting for her response.

 

“I… um…” She stammered, attempting get ahold of her muddled thoughts with three sets of eyes clearly waiting for her answer. “Well, no, but… ugh Asami!” Korra groaned, her eyebrows pinched together over her eyes as an annoyed scowl turned her lips downward. Why did she have to say that? She knew the brothers didn’t know, and she knew Korra didn’t want them to know. Mako especially, considering he was the one who voiced an unwanted realization.

 

“What?” Asami uttered all too innocently, but Korra knew. Oh, she knew, especially with the way viridian eyes sparkled with mischief.

 

Taking a deep breath in, Korra nearly groaned at the attention they were giving her. “I’m not dating anyone, I just… really like this guy…” The blue eyed girl admitted reluctantly. Sweet merciful spirits, she couldn’t look at Mako or Bolin in the eye. So she settled with simply averting her attention to anything that wasn’t them. Immediately, Korra regretted it, recoiling as she caught sight of a couple swapping spit at one of the empty tables behind Mako.

 

“And?” Bolin egged on.

 

“And what? There’s nothing to it besides me liking him.” She shrugged carelessly.

 

“Mn, I don’t believe that, you’re blushing like crazy.” Bolin quipped, shaking his head with evident doubt while he comfortably leaned back into his chair.

 

“Am not!” Korra denied hastily.

 

“Korra, you’re turning beet red,” Mako spoke up, unable to hide the amused grin lining his lips as he leaned forward to point and poke at her cheeks.

 

“I’m warning you two!” Korra threatened as she smacked Mako’s inquisitive finger away from her burning flesh.

 

With a soft giggle, Asami waved her hand to get their attention. “Okay, okay, stop prodding her before she kills you guys.” She joked, but that only got Korra to swing her head and face her friend with narrowed eyes.

 

Fortunately for Asami, a deafening yelp abruptly graced their ears and immediately their eyes glanced at the group behind them. Of course, it was the group that comprised of the football players and cheerleaders. Why they have the need to make their presence known everywhere they went was beyond Korra. Blatantly rolling cerulean eyes skyward in vexation, she turned back to her friends.

 

Shaking his head free of that distraction, Bolin continues. “So… who is it?” He whispers loudly, curiosity rapidly filling those green irises.

 

“She won’t say anything, she didn’t even tell me. I’m going to be honest here, it kinda hurt,” Asami said with a hand delicately fumbling with the gold piece of jewelry around her neck. “But I’ve been helping her out with her problem in operation ‘seduce Mr. Nobody’.” She wiggled her brows suggestively.

 

The brothers glanced at each other in some secret language, something Korra noticed with narrowed eyes and furrowed brows. Of course, she was curious. But that didn’t mean she was going to prod at the meaning behind that look. “Like what?” Bolin grumbled hesitantly.

 

“She told me to be a ‘sex kitten’. Her words exactly.” Korra responded, clearly unamused with the bizarre reference as she directed her thumb towards the black haired beauty.

 

A harsh, wet cough was heard as Bolin choked on the fruit punch. The three of them waited in amusement as Bolin attempted to clear his throat of the fruity drink that Korra was almost certain was spiked. It wasn’t until Mako stopped fiddling with a pieces of confetti and possessed some measly level of mercy on his poor brother that he firmly pat at Bolin’s back. As he regained enough energy to form a sentence, he croaked, “That’s stupid though, you can’t be a sex kitten. You’re not sneaky enough.”

 

“That’s what I was thinking!” Korra laughed in agreement as she leaned back in her chair and stretched her legs underneath the table in a rather unladylike manner that would have Tarrlok grimacing and scolding her for the unrefined display. She wasn’t completely oblivious to think that this wouldn’t backfire on her, but what surprised her was that Asami’s advice was actually working.

 

“Well…” Bolin began, his beryl irises roving over the exposed parts of her body from what he could see from the surface of the table, namely that of her pronounced breasts practically overflowing from the confined latex. “Actually, with that dress, you certainly look like one.” He pointed his finger in her direction, gesturing vaguely to her breasts. Korra couldn’t bring herself to disagree with him. She truly did look like a so-called ‘sex kitten’, whatever that meant, anyways.

 

Besides, she couldn’t cover those puppies up even if she wore a baggy, shapeless dress. They’d still manage to find a way to pop out or bounce enticingly without her permission. Spirits, this reminded her of the caretakers that scowled in disapprovement when she began sprouting tits.

 

Shaking her of those horrid memories, Korra tried focusing on the conversation.

 

Asami nodded calmly, mimicking Korra and reclining back into her chair comfortably all while continuously fidgeting with her simple necklace. But with her viridian eyed friend, she appeared graceful, nothing like the undignified mess Korra knew she looked like. What did it matter anyways? She mentally shrugged. Whoever had a problem with it could suck a dick, for all she cares. “Oh yeah, you can definitely pull it off with that dress.” Asami agreed wholeheartedly.

 

“Was that why you told me to buy it?” She asked suspiciously, folding her arms underneath her breasts.

 

“No, but it is a win-win for me. I mean, you’re like my little pupil, so seeing you take my advice and grow from it makes me so proud.” Asami said sweetly with an exaggerated smile and sniffed as though she were going to cry.

 

“So… he’s interested?” Mako drawled nonchalantly, although he seemed to be quite interested in what they were talking about, considering the way his eyes went back and forth between her and Asami.

 

“Mhm,” Asami answered for Korra with a hum and a knowing grin. She was tempted to narrow her eyes further, but Bolin’s voice broke through the conversation and the muffled pounding of music seeping through the opened doors to the auditorium.

 

“Ooooh, that’s hot.” He cooed with a grotesque smile growing on his boyish features.

 

Leaning forward, Mako steepled his hands atop the table’s clothed surface. “You wanna know what’s even hotter?” He asked simply. The smug look that crossed Mako’s face as irritatingly tapped his fingers against one another in a wave-like motion made Korra’s eyes narrow suspiciously. All three of them leaned closer to listen to his suggestion.

 

“What?” She mumbled reluctantly. With the way his golden eyes focused on her, it was an understatement to say she was apprehensive. But he didn’t say anything, the smug smile only curving his lips further as Korra impatiently waited with a vexed twitch in her brow. She would give Mako exactly ten seconds to spit out what he wanted to say before she’d get livid.

 

As if he could sense Korra’s rising ire, he suggested, “Have him catch you doing something he’s not supposed to see.”

 

With that simple answer, her mind immediately conjured up an image that had her eyes widening. What in all hells compelled him Mako to even suggest that? Granted, they were teenagers, they could easily get riled up from the smallest stimulations… her included.

 

As if reading her thoughts, Asami modestly giggled into her hand and slapped at Korra’s shoulder. “Not that, you pervert! Well, unless you two are into that, but I think Mako meant accidentally changing in front of him or something.” She clarified through the giggles.

 

“Exactly,” Mako affirmed, leaning back into his chair with a creak and stretching long limbs underneath the table to unintentionally graze her legs. “When a guy sees a girl changing, I guarantee you nine out of ten times they will stop to watch. I would know,” he said matter-of-factly, folding his arms across his chest.

 

Why did he have to say it like that? And why did he have that disgusting smile on his face? Korra was tempted to slap it off him, but the thought of Mako actually involved in a lady friend, and in that manner as well, made her shiver in revulsion. “Gross, I don’t want to think about you doing stuff like that.” She scowled.

 

“Why would it be gross? Sex is a normal, healthy thing to engage in.” Asami spoke up, shrugging with a friendly smile etched on her face.

 

“Oh, I understand that, but it’s him that makes it gross.” Korra said in satisfaction, pointing her finger towards Mako as his brows furrowed in offence.

 

“Tch, as if you’re someone to go on about.” He mumbled, averting his so-called disinterested gaze towards the opened doors of the gym.

 

Scoffing, Korra angrily propped her hands on her hips and leaned forward with look on her face that clearly said, you can do better than that, broski. “I just so happen to look hot as all hell right now, so I don’t know what you’re talking about!” She gloated, smiling as though his insult fell on deaf ears.

 

“Hey now, don’t get into a little hissy fight guys.” Asami butted into their argument before anything got too heated. Korra easily complied, leaning further into her chair while offering him a smug smile that was practically wiped from his face in a matter of seconds. “Anyway, guys are very predictable. Throw them a bone and they’ll follow you everywhere. So, like Mako said, do something you’re not supposed to do, specifically anything involving you getting undressed. To put it as short and painless as possible, they’ll think about sex and specifically sex with you when you do stuff like that.” She shrugged.

 

Korra pondered, absorbing the information like a sponge. “Sex, huh?”

 

Sex? Sex. Sex with Tarrlok. Spirits, it felt so wrong to even think about about doing such a thing with him, but the subtle pulsations she felt coursing through her veins throughout the past two weeks or so, especially today of all days, was getting harder to ignore.

 

Of course, she wondered about him and all the implications that it could bring, but she always had some rationalization in her to stop the absurd thoughts. Before Asami’s advice, before the almost-kiss that they could’ve shared at Harmony Tower, those lingering fantasies were mere daydreams. At that time, she knew it would never happen, that anything more than an implied father-daughter relationship was off the table, despite knowing that there was some sort of reciprocated attraction between the two of them.

 

But now? Knowing that it is in the realm of possibility, that in itself both intimidates and excites Korra. Although Asami’s advice was actually working, the dreams heightened in frequency and she still felt clueless as to what exactly she should do.

 

Spirits, the dreams were getting out of hand as well. One specifically had her angrily glaring at the man due to the fact that he deprived her of finishing the dream. It was getting to the good part, too! From what she recalled, Korra had been on her back with Tarrlok hovering above her. He had been pressing scorching kisses down her neck, down between the valley of her breasts, and down the toned surface of her stomach. He had hooked his long fingers over the elastic hem of her underwear, feeling his hot breath at the place she wanted him to touch the most, whether it be from his fingers, his tongue, or his cock. But just as her imagination had him closing in on the heat between her legs, she felt the gentle scrape of his nails grazing her scalp as he woke her up for school.

 

She nearly snapped at him to wait another few minutes, because damn it all those few minutes actually do matter, but despite her fruitless attempt to fall back asleep, her mind was already adjusting to being abruptly woken up.

 

Before her boiling blood made her angry, on top of being turned on, Bolin hesitantly edged forward. “Not meaning to pry here, but are you a virgin?”

 

Well that was something she wasn’t expecting him to ask. Scanning the area for anyone listening into their conversation, Korra tensed, feeling heat rush to her cheeks, further accentuating the reason why she was blushing in addition to the faint thrumming in her lower abdomen.

 

“Bolin! Keep it down!” Asami whispered tersely with widened viridian eyes, practically throwing a small pile of shimmering confetti towards his direction.

 

Easily dodging the shiny material, the brother shrunk in his seat and sheepishly rubbed at the back of his neck. “Sorry, sorry!” He hastily apologized.

 

“What was your first guess?” Korra deadpanned.

 

When he was met with Korra’s stoic expression, he averted his eyes from her intense scrutiny in favor of anything that was not Korra. Childishly pursing his lips, Bolin continued quietly, “I… nothing. I was just… curious. You don’t have to say anything, I’ll just shut up now.”

 

Despite the lingering heat on her cheeks, she couldn’t get mad at her friend. Especially him. “Yes, Bolin, I am.” She grumbled almost inaudibly. Korra already knew that many people her age had sex, and she knew she shouldn’t rush the process lest she’ll regret the experience, but she did always wonder. And now that Tarrlok was readily responding to her ameteur advances, intentional or not, that only heightened her assumption in the act itself. What would sex with Tarrlok be like?

 

“Hey! Welcome to the club!” Bolin exclaimed with wide arms. She guessed he would’ve hugged her close or harshly beat at her back in a welcoming gesture, but fortunately for Korra she was on the other side of the table.

 

—-

 

Despite her preference in working out to figuratively cool herself off, she couldn’t necessarily do that in the middle of a school dance. So the next best thing: dance with her friends. With all this talk about sex and flirting and seducing Tarrlok, she was getting hot and bothered.

 

Korra considered this a monumental day since she actually gave into the temptation to dance to this horrid music. Each song blended into one another for the worst. She felt as though she were Tarrlok admitting this to herself, but the songs sounded the same. But she couldn’t stop herself from needing to do something to loosen the persistent knot in her lower abdomen that was only getting harder and harder to ignore with each passing minute.

 

She cursed to herself. Not only was the auditorium blazing with heat, but it was also too cramped for her liking. Cerulean eyes scanned the crowd through the flashing lights as she felt Asami sway to the beat behind her.

 

Bolin frantically moved to the song next to Asami while Mako stood unnecessarily close to Korra’s front. She shrugged it off, chalking it up to the people who unintentionally bumped her side since the gym was filled with hyperactive teenagers.

 

Cliques danced together with huge grins on their faces while couples distastefully gyrated their hips to the beat. And although Korra knew she shouldn’t stare at one of the many couples, she’d rather do that than awkwardly gape at Mako’s scarf. It was difficult trying to tear her eyes from this particular couple, namely that of Tahno and that Sakura chick she heard in passing. Korra would have felt the disgust churning her stomach, but it wasn’t at all like the other couples dispersed throughout the auditorium. The pair danced sensually to the awful music rather than uncoordinatedly.

 

The bleach-blonde’s arm reached behind her to hook around Tahno’s neck as he nuzzled her own. He hugged her close, his hands clasped onto her hips as he guided their movements in synchrony to the beats. It truly wasn’t anything special, but the look on the girl’s face mimicked that of Korra’s emotions.

 

It wouldn’t have had such an impact on her, but Tahno must’ve felt her eyes on him, his piercing blue eyes met her own and that slow curling of his lips sent a flash of heat up her spine.

 

In her mind’s eye, it was Tarrlok rather than her scrawny, pale classmate. Hastily tearing her eyes away from his, she attempted to focus on swaying her body to the music. Was it that lazy, knowing smirk? Or was it those heated pale blue eyes that reminded her of her supposed father? Korra couldn’t get her thoughts straight. Not with the constant thrumming low in her body, in any case.

 

But despite all efforts in diverting her attention to the spastic bright lights above them, her eyes inadvertently trailed back to the couple. Fortunately for Korra, her classmate was hastily all too wrapped up in the blonde in front of him to notice her lingering eyes.

 

Immediately, that voice in the back of her mind began cackling as the thought of Tarrlok behind her came trickling in.

 

He’d press his chiseled chest flush against her back while his calloused hands grasped the harsh curve of her hips. She would roll her hips hard against his with his assistance just to witness the darkening in his eyes and the clench in his jaw as lust coursed through their veins. He’d like what she would do, and that in itself would make him tighten his grasp on her. Just the thought of her pert ass grinding against his arousal all while his face nuzzled her neck, maybe even pressing lingering kisses to her sensitive skin, got the pulsing in her lower abdomen to intensify, nearly making her release a soft moan.

 

Spirits, Korra wanted him.

 

She doesn’t know how to explain it. The only experience she had that resembled a love interest was with Howl, but that was barely anything to gossip about, that was ultimately nothing compared to the oh-so-distracting politician undoubtedly tending to his papers. She knew this was getting out of hand, but she couldn’t stop the thoughts from luring in.

 

Warmth and wetness began pooling low in her underwear and Korra honestly didn’t know how a measly high school dance resulted in her wanting to grab Tarrlok’s hair and let him do as he pleased. Sure, she had felt the subtle tingles throughout the few weeks, but by the spirits, she felt as though she were going mad.

 

Cursing to herself, she nearly shook her head in disappointment. It had only been more or less two weeks, and not only had her feelings not wane like she expected, but it exacerbated enough for her to want to blatantly grind against his groin just as the couples in the auditorium were doing. What was she thinking?

 

Clearly you’re not, since you want to get sexed up by your adoptive dad. Naughty, naughty. The voice said slyly.

 

Korra let out a shaky breath. Dancing evidently got her nowhere. Maybe it was the heat of the gym, that it had her blood boiling? No. She’d dealt with the summer heat before and that hadn’t stopped her from relieving the tension. Maybe it was the constant bumping of bodies against her side? She couldn’t decide, but she knew she was in desperate need of some air.

 

Abruptly stopping her awkward swaying, Korra placed a gentle hand on Asami’s shoulder. With one look from her viridian eyed friend, Asami was evidently worried for her. Leaving their spot on the dance floor, Korra stumbled through the crowd, shoving those who got in her way and made a beeline to the empty hallway.

 


 

Asami could only think of two reasons why Korra offered her that glazed, heated look. Either she was coming down with some sickness - the bug had been going around since the seasons were changing, Asami reasoned - or she couldn’t control a basic need that clearly had her itching to do something about it. She guessed it was the latter considering the topics they were talking about and the plans they came up with to seduce Mr. Nobody.

 

But she still felt a lingering uneasiness in the pit of her stomach. It could be something else for all she knew.

 

Asami glanced at Bolin, nearly going to explain she’ll tend to Korra, but immediately recoiled, seeing as the boy was too occupied with dancing like some maniac, arms flailing about. With wide amused eyes, Asami shook herself and glanced behind her to Mako, gesturing with her head that she’d find Korra.

 

Squeezing past the tight crowd on the dance floor, she caught sight of the closed doors to the hallway.

 

Opening the heavy metal doors, Asami found the girl she was looking for sitting limply on the floor against the painted brick walls. The girl appeared as though she were in pain. She made her way to her blue eyed friend and crouched directly in front of her, placing the back of her delicate hand against Korra’s forehead. “Korra, you okay?” She asked with pinched eyebrows in worry.

 

“Yeah, I just needed some air,” she dismissed, batting away at her hand against the thin layer of sweat on her overheated skin.

 

Still worried, and still not satisfied with her answer, Asami persisted, “You look like you’re about to faint.” She observed. “Seriously, what’s wrong?” She tried once again, moving from Korra’s front to sit next to her on the floor.

 

With an exaggerated sigh, Korra pointedly glared at Asami, her brows furrowing and her mouth upturned into a nasty scowl. “Ya know, this is all your guys’ fault,” she accused with a huff.

 

Korra was undeniably adorable when she got this way. Granted, her, Mako and Bolin looked adorable when something doesn’t go their way, but moreso with her blue eyed friend, considering they only knew each other for, give or take, a month. It was a nice feeling to know she wasn’t as stiff as she was just as the first day of the school year, but she now played along and opened up to them, despite seeing the hint of reluctance in her sapphire irises. But that didn’t stop Asami from joking with her like a normal friend. It was exactly the reason why she insisted on annoying her and prodding at her with how good looking her father and uncle were.

 

Slightly scoffing, Asami’s voice rose to a higher pitch in disbelief. “What did we do?” She asked with an amused smile. But Korra’s face fell from the glare and gave her a look that clearly said, you’re joking, right? With that face, Asami let out a bark of laughter. “So you’re horny? That’s it?”

 

Asami would’ve knocked over breathless with the dopey and clueless face Korra made, but she bit her lip to stifle the laughter, unable to hide the grin manifesting on her red painted lips. “That’s it? Asami, you’ve had sex, so you know how to manage on your own. Me on the other hand, I’ve never had sex, let alone a boyfriend and I’m horny as hell. I barely ever touch myself because I feel like some clueless dipshit and I just - ugghh! I feel like I’m going to explode.” Korra groaned in frustration, but that didn’t stop Asami from grinning at her friend’s dismay.

 

“Korra, everyone gets horny. It’s natural feeling.” She reminded her friend, stretching her legs in front of her and began fidgeting with the gold necklace around her neck.

 

“I know, but ugh! I just need to distract myself.” Korra sighed, appearing crestfallen and not at all what Asami wanted her to feel at the moment.

 

Pondering ways her poor friend could relieve that warm tension she clearly felt, Asami suggested with a shrug, “Why don’t you get some toys or something? I know this one shop about ten minutes away from here… I can help you look for some dildos or vibrators or whatever you’re into…” She offered, lowering her voice and wiggling her eyebrows suggestively.

 

As her friend’s cerulean gaze slowly trailed back to her face, she witnessed the heat rise further up her body judging from the bright flush surging up her neck and hastily creeping up her cheeks. At first, Asami thought perhaps it was just because she’d mentioned sex toys to her prude yet perverted friend, but when the suggestion remained unanswered for a full twenty seconds or so, Asami knew this wasn’t the case. “And have my dad find them, no thanks. I’d rather die than have him know that I do stuff like that on my free time.” Korra shifted uncomfortably on the hard floor and suddenly seemed to find the poster for the spirit week very interesting.

 

Knowing she shouldn’t prod her friend further, lest she gets punched too hard on the shoulder, Asami shrugged. “Your loss… How about all four of us get sushi in an hour or so? Bolin looks like he’s working up an appetite, Mako looks like - well he’s honestly just standing there - and you clearly look like you’re going to faint if Mr. Nobody doesn’t give you some dick soon.” She rambled on, uncaring that Korra was watching her with a deadpan expression and the slightest bit of narrowed eyes. “I could drop you off after so you can take a much needed cold shower. You think you can handle one more hour here?” Asami asked gently. She really didn’t want Korra to explode from the familiar heat, but it had barely been over an hour since they arrived. The money spent for the ticket was expensive and would be a waste for them to stay only for that short amount of time.

 

“I guess,” Korra grumbled almost inaudibly, twiddling her fingers in the same manner a child would if they were caught thieving sweets.

 

With a smile, she stood from her spot on the floor and stuck her hands out for Korra to grasp onto. “C’mon, up you go, sweetie.”



 

Noatak swore he was getting old.

 

He recalled the times he could easily keep his body awake with mindless activities in the dead of night. But now? He loathed the mere thought that he was actually aging. The fine wrinkles around his eyes and the strands of grey woven through his short hair was a reminder he didn’t ask for. It wasn’t so much the fact that he was aging, but that he shared the same appearance of his father, moreso in Tarrlok.

 

It was nearly midnight and although his eyes stung from exhaustion, practically drifting closed, the sound of the front door flicking open cut through the movie quietly playing on the television. Whether the sound came from the movie or the other room, was beyond his comprehension. But unconsciously glancing in the direction of the foyer, he saw Korra stride in as soundlessly as possible.

 

She peeked over the edge of the wall and scanned the living room, as well as the kitchen for who he assumed was a certain councilman. Naive little girl. He could practically read her intentions like an open book even in his sorry state.

 

Her eyes caught his barely opened ones as she edged forward into the room. He knew who she was looking for and it certainly wasn’t him. That is, unless you grew out his hair and relished the nickname, ‘daddy’. Wordlessly, he gestured vaguely to the direction of his brother’s upstairs office. He blearily caught sight of her nodding then biting her lip. In nervousness or enticement, Noatak did not know and honestly did not care.

 

As she padded as quietly as she can with those damn heels against the marble, he turned over in his spot on the sofa with a deep inhale.

 

Noatak acknowledged that he should intervene, that he should have a little talk with the child or persist his dear brother to stop what he was doing to the poor girl. It’s repulsive, something he didn’t expect that would ever happen to Tarrlok. But even with the distaste gradually peeling away from the recent weeks, he knew it wasn’t his place to interrupt the blatant flirting between the two.

 

Undoubtedly, the kid’s attempt to rile his brother up was more than amusing, considering it was actually working, that is. But that's besides the point.

 

Thirty seven years with his brother, and he still has the need to protect him. Adjusting his head against the plush pillow, he thinks back to the times he had to mediate into Tarrlok’s life just to protect him. Thirty seven years and he still babied him. He’s a grown man, he’s more than capable of making his own decisions, considering he governs the city practically by himself.

 

Good luck, brother. He decidedly cackles to himself. You’re on your own.

 


 

Surprisingly enough, he seemed to be taking a break from work. He relaxed into his office chair, stretching long limbs underneath his desk while his hand fidgeted with his pen. She was about to straighten her form from leaning on the doorframe to retreat to her bedroom, but she still felt the residual vibrations running through her veins. It wouldn’t hurt, right? After all, she’d gotten this far in the night being exceptionally horny and nothing but teasing ensued… With the exception of her breakdown during the dance. Korra nearly applauded her willpower.

 

Quietly sauntering behind him, Korra bent down and loosely wrapped her arms around his neck, her hands clasped together atop his chest, her cheek nearly pressed against his mussed hair.

 

“Hey, asshat.” She whispered into his ear, the smile evident in her voice.

 

“Sweetheart,” he greeted bluntly. Despite his straightforward greeting, he remained unfazed in his spot, well except for the pen twirling between his fingers.

 

Without wavering her loose hold on him, her eyes inadvertently roved to the stack of papers that were nearly finished. With a twitch of her brow, Korra let out a tiny scoff. “I honestly don’t know how you can look at papers all night and keep going.” She released him in favor of straightening her back and moving past his relaxed form.

 

“How do you know I’m tired?” He questioned, adjusting his position in his seat.

 

“Just a wild guess,” Korra shrugged with a knowing smile, pointedly glancing at the practically empty mug of his favorite black coffee settling on the edge of his desk.

 

Comfortably perching herself on his desk directly in front of him, uncaring that she may have wrinkled his precious papers, she leaned back and tilted her head to the side as his brow twitched in slight vexation. Korra tried to refrain from widening her smile in satisfaction when she watched those piercing blue depths wander the length of her body and the tiniest of winces that crossed his handsome features at the very thought of leaving her heels on in the house.

 

Getting him out of that daze with an exaggerated sigh, Korra snapped her head back in a groan. “Ughh! I’m exhausted!”

 

“So it seems, considering you’re sitting on important documents.” He says blandly, as though he were trying to appear unaffected by her stretching form in front of him.

 

“Just iron them if they’re more important than your daughter’s well-being. Seriously, you’ve been working on them all day, I’m assuming. Just worry about it tomorrow. You look like you need it.” She suggests with a wave of her hand, placing her heel-clad feet on each edge of his seat.

 

“Flattering,” he deadpanned. “So how was your day?” Tarrlok continued and deftly unbuckled the straps of her heels all while keeping cerulean depths locked on his pale blue ones. Were they really going to act like this was a normal thing? That she was blatantly stretched out before him in the dead of night while they made small talk? Korra couldn’t bring herself to say anything on the matter, considering she knew he was pointedly trying to avoid digging himself a deeper hole in this mess of conflicting emotions the two brought about with each other.

 

“Boring, but I did make the volleyball team, so that brightened my day a bit.” She mentioned matter-of-factly as he began to massage one of her ankles.

 

“That’s wonderful news! I’m proud of you, sweetheart.” He says with a genuine smile, kneading at her stiff joints. Even if it was just volleyball, it was a nice feeling knowing that someone was proud of her. She hadn’t heard those words in so long that it was too foreign of a feeling. Well, besides Asami mentioning she wasn’t failing in calculus, but only by a margin.

 

Not knowing what to do under his cool gaze, she allowed herself to scoff in slight nervousness as a way to distract herself. “Psh, it was a piece of cake.” Korra mused. She flipped her hair over her shoulder and grasped onto the handle of his mug, gulping down the last of his coffee and indulging in the bitter taste of the cold, black liquid even though she preferred hers doused in sugar and creamer.

 

“Speaking of food, are you hungry? There’s leftover takeout I can warm up for you…?” He drawled and slightly tightened his grip on her ankle. Without her permission, Korra’s eyes flickered to where his hand met her skin and immediately back to his icy irises. It was an innocent touch. It was just a mere massage, nothing to overthink and over-calculate herself into delirium, she repeatedly said in her mind, but she couldn’t help biting her lower lip in anticipation.

 

“As delicious as greasy noodles sound at the moment, Asami took us out for sushi after the dance, so I’m pretty stuffed.” She regarded him coolly. Greasy noodles did sound really appealing to Korra, but the idea of taking another bite of food after raiding the dessert table at the dance with Bolin and going to an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant soon after definitely had her stomach churning at the thought.

 

“How was that? Your little dance, I mean.” He asked with a nod of his head.

 

Sighing as she raked her fingers back through her long hair, Korra recounted flatly, “Ehhhh, as horrible and cliche as any high school homecoming could be… the music was terrible, people were disgustingly grinding against one another, the auditorium was hot and humid, which was why we stayed out at the tables most of the night. It was alright. I’d give it a five out of ten.”

 

Lifting one brow up, his eyes roved over her body once again in suspicion. “That seems a bit harsh, don’t you think?” He mused, continuing to distractedly loosen the joints in her ankle.

 

Korra threw her head back to let out a single, mocking bark of laughter. “Ha! Considering the school spent a large amount of money on this dance rather than spent it renovating the bathrooms, it should’ve been a lot more enjoyable.” She rambled, glancing down at his large hands deftly kneading her skin. Attempting to not allow her brain to wander, she continued with a tilt of her head. “But… it wasn’t all bad, though. I mean the food booth was amazing!”

 

“Really?” He smirked. Although she was trying to focus on the sweets her and Bolin devoured, rather than the constant, subtle pulsing in her lower abdomen, Korra could see the spark in those depths from a mile away once she trailed her eyes from his hand to meet his cunning face. Just like she was, she could practically see the wheels turning in a plot against her. She didn’t know whether to feel elated or apprehensive. But she soon got her answer when she felt his thumb start rubbing small circles along the side of her ankle.

 

“Mhm, well not necessarily meals, but finger foods. They had this chocolate fountain and strawberries and sooo much desserts…” She trailed off and was glad that her face resembled that of a glazed expression as she tried to think of those sweet morsels in her mouth, but was too focused on the lazy touches the man in front of her traced. It was a good cover-up if he ever found out exactly why she was looking away in such a way. “It was so delicious.” She adds.

 

“And I’m guessing you danced the night away judging from how swollen your ankles are.” Tarrlok purred, switching to give her other ankle the same treatment.

 

Spirits, he has amazing hands. She hated how much a simple touch can get her body to react accordingly. Korra nearly cursed aloud at the spike in her body temperature, her heart rate beating faster. She was half tempted to guide those calloused hands of his up the toned length of her leg, but instead, Korra bit her lower lip to stifle any form of encouragement. Maybe it was an accident… A very pleasant accident. He did seem a tad bit distracted, considering she blatantly walked in on him taking a break from those papers she’s sitting on. But with a quick glance downward at him told her otherwise.

 

“Not all night, that was actually Bolin, but I did dance.” She dismissed with a nonchalant shrug in an effort to appear unfazed by his ministrations.

 

He nodded as he took in the information. Abruptly, she heard a chuckle rise from his throat. “Were they running in terror?” He joked, the smirk on his determined lips widening further to show his stupid, perfect teeth. Even when he teased her, sneaking an offhand insult into their flirting, Korra couldn’t help unconsciously smiling. She can’t help that he’s dare-she-say actually fun to be around, despite the occasional prissy and irritating ego he carried over his shoulder.

 

“I’m not that bad of a dancer,” she narrowed her eyes, leaning back in her makeshift seat. She returned a joking smile of her own as he gave her a disbelieving look in response. With her reveling in their jesting after a long night of gossip and plotting, Korra tapped her fingers on the hard wood of his desk, the sharp staccato of her short nails hitting the desk cut the silence in the room.

 

“So you say,” Tarrlok beamed with lowered lids.

 

With a feigned expression of offense, even though she was highly amused at his reciprocation in their continuous banter, she firmly placed her foot onto his chest, pinning him to his chair even though he could easily move her foot away if he so desired. “Hey, bub, I managed with heels like those and a dress this tight… Speaking of which, I can’t believe women actually wear this stuff. It’s so impractical.” Korra shook her head and duly noted Tarrlok did not make any move to take her foot off his chest, cautiously resuming his kneading on the other.

 

She watched in satisfaction as his pale blue eyes roved over her attire once more. “It’s perfectly practical. It comes off easily,” he says almost too comfortably, but nearly a second later she both saw and felt him tense at the implication of his words. With slightly widened eyes and brows that rose an inch, Korra felt her mouth twitch in a knowing smile as she had an inkling of what the man in front of her was thinking of. It was precisely the same thing that had been prodding at her own thoughts throughout the day, and the better part of the past two weeks or so. “I apologize, that was terribly inappropriate.” He mumbled hastily, clenching his jaw and averting his eyes to stare at his empty mug at her side.

 

Korra was torn between laughing it off or teasing him about it. She was gravitating towards the former, to had some sort of mercy on the poor man, considering his old heart nearly gave out just from the sight of her dress earlier in the evening, but that devilish voice decided now was a great time to emerge. Besides, she could chalk any consequences that could arise to that voice encouraging her and her lustful mood… And she really couldn’t help wanting those hands of his to rove over her skin.

 

Lowering her foot, she slowly brought it back to his side and leaned forward. “No, no, you’re right. It does come off easily.” She hinted, relishing in the way he practically took her advances with stride. With the way she leaned forward in challenge, his eyes glanced down at the enticing picture of her breasts practically spilling from the latex confines and effectively stopped his kneading on her skin. “Thanks for reminding me actually. The zipper is out of my reach, can you unzip me?” She asked, pleasure radiating from her voice.

 

He remained stubbornly quiet in his chair as she slid down from his desk and turned to offer her back to him, easily sweeping her hair over one shoulder. With how silent the estate was, she could practically hear him debating whether this was a good idea or not while she gazed out at the crescent moon. Of course, this was a bad idea. To indulge the temptation to give into their lust, especially now since they were technically alone. Biting her lip, she waited. When nothing came, she was about to glance over her shoulder as rejection began to creep into her thoughts, but the creak of his chair nearly had her cracking a smile.

 

With how close they were to each other, Korra could feel the heat from his body radiating onto her back. The slow, deliberate sound of the zipper unfastening to show her back to the man had blood rushing to her cheeks and a shiver coursing down her spine. Once the small tab was at its end - marking the harsh curve of her ass to reveal the hem of a pair of lace underwear - Korra’s breath hitched. With the way she distractedly stared at the moon, leaving her to feel every acute sensation on her body, Korra wanted nothing more than to grasp his hands and have them reduce her to a trembling mess of pleasure.

 

But just as the thought formulates, his hands settle on the sharp contour of her hips and he closes the remaining distance between them. To the spirits above, he’s so warm. Similar to how she felt with him at Harmony Tower and in the kitchen the following day, the heat in her overwhelmingly spikes and she feels as though she were going to faint into the depths of vanilla and tobacco.

 

There’s movement behind her and one of his hands leaves her hip in favor of sweeping the stray tendrils of hair over a shoulder. Soon after, she’s choking on oxygen as it catches in her throat. She bites her lip to stifle a sigh or moan or whatever that was on the verge of emerging when she feels his lips graze the delicate skin of her neck and his breath stirring her hair lovingly.

 

Letting out a shaky breath, she dares a glance over her shoulder and immediately meets his pale blue eyes swimming with lust. Her vision blurs with how close he is to her, but as her eyes rove over his face that was unmistakably moving closer, she swallows nervously over her suddenly dry throat.

 

“Thanks,” she utters no louder than a whisper. That soft word instantly had his eyes focused on her plump lips and his hands tightening on the curves of her hips. She knows she’s risking her sanity, but she does it regardless. Placing her hand atop his larger one, Korra slowly guides it further across her abdomen.

 

Despite desperately wanting to know what it feels like to be kissed, to feel those determined lips repeatedly crash against hers in fervor, to feel the heat gradually intensifying in her lower abdomen until she trembled with desire for him, especially since he was pressed so intimately against her back, the voice shoved in the dark corners of her mind practically screamed for her to stop. With the little coherence in her mind, she was undoubtedly confused why she should stop him, considering this was exactly what she wanted from him, but she deliriously remembered her plan.

 

Korra nearly said, fuck it , to her plan, to give into the temptation that was practically offered on a silver platter, but just as his lips grazed hers, like they have twice in the past, she reluctantly finds some rationality in her clouded mind and stammers, “... I… I should get to bed. You know, too much fun exhausts the body.”

 

As if physically breaking the trance the two were submerged in, Tarrlok reluctantly pulls back just enough for her to turn and face him, clenching his jaw and running his fingers through his hair as a way to distract himself. “Right, we don’t want you to get too sore.” He mutters, his smooth voice growing husky with lust.

 

She’s still too riled up to let this opportunity go. “Who said being sore was a bad thing?” She questioned with mischief gimmering in her eyes as she bent down to grasp onto her discarded heels on the floor by its straps. As she comes back up, Korra grips his bicep and stretches onto the tips of her toes. She presses a delicate kiss to his cheek, relishing the slight scrap of his stubble against her lips before whispering, “G’night, old pervert.”

 

“Goodnight, sweetheart.” He says as she saunters away from him.

Chapter Text

 

Why can’t I go to the city with you guys? Korra asked, crossing her arms over her chest with a pout. She knew they had been planning their trip or whatever it was for a few weeks now, but Korra didn’t see the problem with her being there with them. She’s their daughter for spirits’ sake! Shouldn’t that count for something?

 

Applying a wine colored stain to her lips, Senna sighed and glanced down at her daughter’s crestfallen eyes. Because, Korra, it’s your father and I’s wedding anniversary. She tried, but that only further emphasized Korra’s pout.

 

And that means I can’t go? She pressed, perching herself onto the tile counter and swinging her legs back and forth.

 

Korra. Senna’s voice grew serious. Even if she was only twelve, Korra was well acquainted with her mother’s serious voice. It was distinctly the lower pitch in her voice that Korra knew she’d be in trouble if she continued, but she couldn’t help it. Not when she had the opportunity to go see Republic City! She always saw the glow of the metropolis past the mountains, and she couldn’t help but to feel as though something was waiting for her there.

 

Mooooooooooom. Korra whined, hitting her heels on the cabinets beneath her.

 

Honey, you’ll get bored. Besides, I thought you like spending time with Katara? Her mother glanced back into the mirror and resumed applying the waxy substance to her lips.

 

I do, and I like her stories about Ojiisan, but she can’t do anything besides sit there. She grumbled, puffing out her lower lip in irritation. It wasn’t the fact that she was boring, Korra knew she was the exact opposite, but all Katara wanted to do was sit and tell her stories. Korra being Korra, she favored the outdoors, to play sports, to get rough like when she got to wrestle with her dad.

 

Honey, she is an elderly woman, not like me or your father. Even though she’s not apart of our family, she’s still your elder, show some respect. Her mother scolded.

 

Sorry… But I want to go with you and dad to see Republic City. Pleeeeeeeeease? She begged, clapping her hands together in a voiced plea. If she begged hard enough, this might actually work.

 

Honey. Senna turned to Korra with a tilt to her head, seemingly attempting to gather her patience. Korra had always been a difficult child - brash, stubborn, hot headed - but she knew, even at an early age, that some things are worth begging for. In this case, seeing Republic City for the first time.

 

With cherries and sprinkles on top? Korra added, her face contorting to those irresistible puppy eyes, those pinched brows, and that pronounced pout. Her mom couldn’t deny her puppy eyes, no one could, and a twinge of satisfaction overcame her when she visibly saw her mother’s resolve break.

 

Slumping forward with an exaggerated sigh, Senna cracked an amused smile and held her pinky finger out in an offer. You promise you won't throw a fit like you are right now?

 

Grinning like an idiot, Korra grasped her mother’s pinky in a silent pledge. I promise.

 

—-

 

I promise.

 

I promise.

 

Cracking open her eyes, Korra groggily scanned her dark room, those two words still echoing in her mind.

 

Why she unintentionally decided to wake up so early was beyond her. Despite squeezing her lids closed, desperately hoping she’d drift back to sleep just to see another fragment of her mother’s face, even if she was all too familiar with what happens next, nothing came. With furrowed brows, she was awake and nothing could change that.

 

Staring at the dim ceiling above her, Korra swallows over the lump in her throat. Sure, she thought about them constantly, especially in the dead of night when she’s in her own space of privacy, but the dreams - or rather nightmares - eventually faded into the background since moving into Tarrlok’s estate. Whether it was because of her recent… fascination… with him or the process of moving into a new life, Korra did not know. Rather she preferred not to know, considering the reality of their legal bond.

 

Korra particularly tried not to contemplate what her parents would think of Tarrlok. Not just as a potential lover of sorts, but also as a father figure as it had been emphasized since he decided to adopt her. And what truly got her skin to produce prickles of aversion is what they would perceive of her situation now.

 

It’s a difficult thing to ponder. Korra understood that. That her biological parents were not physically around to reprimand her, or to shake her of those not-so-absurd yet absurd feelings for someone twenty years her senior, for someone who technically is her father.

 

She truly missed them. She missed being guided, even though she barely ever listened, her indecisiveness constantly battling in the dark corners of her mind. She missed everything regarding her childhood: the simplicity, the bliss, the uncaring attitude that both her parents always laughed at. Wherever they were, she knew they were looking out for her. And when she really thinks about it, the thought itself brings her comfort and content and something unnamed that has her somewhat accepting her new life. Shaking herself of those thoughts, Korra takes a deep breath in and shifts her half lidded gaze towards the window.

 

Dawn was just breaking the night sky and filtering through her curtains in muted streams. As much as it was gorgeous to watch the sun rise up from their estate perched on the outskirts of Republic City, the view was not exactly what she could focus on. With a tilt of her head, Korra saw the outline of Naga’s sleeping form on the other half of her mattress. She ran her fingers gently through the pup’s soft fur and had to crack the smallest of smiles when she stretched out of her curled position with a sleepy sigh.

 

Korra was immensely grateful for her. The past few weeks with the pup already had her cautiously easing herself into what Korra assumed would be a confusing future ahead of her.

 

Even though she couldn’t speak, her presence simply calmed Korra’s nerves whether it was from her tears or her sweat. Naga had already heard most of her complaints and worries and truly everything that had been distressing to the teenager, albeit in hushed tones or through her cries as she tried to catch her breath. Glancing at Naga once again, Korra had to cringe at the suffering she inflicted on the poor pup. Naga didn’t ask for any of this. She didn’t ask to listen to her problems, to know how truly fucked up and pathetic Korra was. Yet she constantly comes trotting back to her side as if nothing was wrong.

 

Korra acknowledged this whole situation was wrong. She shouldn’t be flirting with her adoptive father, shouldn’t actually hold feelings of lust towards him, shouldn’t want to feel his touch everywhere on her body. Yet here she was, pathetically lying in bed, still contemplating what her dead parents would think of this disgusting situation, and still wanting to go through with Asami’s plan.

 

Spirits, she couldn’t even look at him in the eye without thinking of Asami’s teasing voice, or Mako’s unwanted quip, or desperately wanting to pounce him and allow herself the opportunity to just feel without thinking. She honestly wanted to be free. Free from the constant ache of guilt and confusion that she was tempted to stomp into that infuriating man’s room and relieve the building tension.

 

Huffing, Korra turned to face Naga. Even as the plan was put into action, she still feels silly and childish for actually thinking she could control Tarrlok in such a way. At any rate, it was working and Korra didn’t know whether to feel elated or apprehensive for what could come in the future.

 

But just as she began considering her options, her eyes caught sight of the silver ring perched on her bedside table. Closing her eyes, she takes a deep breath in, attempting to calm her frenzied nerves this early in the morning.

 

If her parents were still alive, none of this would happen. She wouldn’t have to live in the orphanage for the better part of her teenage years, wouldn’t have to deal with the guilt she felt since their death, wouldn’t have to feel apprehensive with her advances towards the older man in the room next to hers.

 

If they were still here, everything would be back to normal. But if they were still alive, witnessing this strange attraction between her and Tarrlok unfold, Korra had no doubt they’d protect her to the ends of the earth.

 

Her mother would try to understand the situation, but her father on the other hand… Well, he’d definitely attempt to kill Tarrlok in an instant at every given opportunity, whether they were alone or not. Spirits, that would be a funny sight to see. Tarrlok running for his life while her father sprinted after him, yelling profanities for attempting to deflower their only child . But that would never happen. Even if they were still alive, her and Tarrlok would have never crossed paths. Not only was she a stubborn child and insisted on getting her parents’ attention, but Tarrlok would be too immersed in his work for his own good… And she seriously doubts he’d try anything suggestive to her twelve year old self. If he did, she’d be severely worried for the man.

 

That wasn’t the case, at any rate.

 

No. Now it was just her, Noatak, Tarrlok, and Naga occupying the large space of the estate. When she thought about it, she barely knows the two brothers, moreso in Noatak considering he almost never mentions anything about their past or his likes and dislikes. Tarrlok on the other hand, she has some knowledge that he and his brother had a rather tragic past, and something that happened ‘thirteen years ago’ as Noatak claimed, but besides the basics, she doesn’t know much about him.

 

It’s sad really, she’d been living with him for more than a month now and she knows little to nothing about them. Abruptly, she hears the soft footsteps of either brothers padding along the cold marble, breaking her from her thoughts. She had an inkling it was Tarrlok since he usually went to city hall for the first half of the day. And with the way she witnessed Noatak practically knock out on the couch rather than in one of the numerous guest bedrooms the night before, she ventured to guess he was still sound asleep.

 

Korra thinks she should do the same, to numb her mind and fall back asleep, or at least have something to keep her busy. If she doesn’t, she’ll end up overthinking and that subtle thrumming will return. Well, more than it already had, that is.

 

Wrapping an arm around Naga’s middle, Korra allows a sigh to escape her and desperately hopes the darkness of sleep consumes her once more.

 


 

Sharp, rhythmic knocks at his closed door cut through the soft jazz playing in his bedroom. Shaving the last bit of stubble on his chin, Tarrlok blatantly ignores the person behind the door, making no intention of moving from his spot in front of the mirror and sink. It’s too early in the morning to talk to anyone, and for them to witness his state of disarray would be a travesty on their part, especially with the streaks of shaving cream dotting his jawline. But just as he was finishing up, the knocking began once again.

 

Tarrlok let out a muttered curse. There were only two people in the estate that could possibly irritate him this early in the morning. He presumes it’s Noatak, considering Korra had been out late the night before with her little school dance and typically slept in until breakfast was made or in the making. Splashing his face with warm water, he wipes the remaining foam gathered on his skin.

 

This better be important lest whoever it was behind the door deliberately wants to get an eyeful of his bare chest. He opens the door with a soft creak, expecting Noatak’s indifferent yet harsh face. To his pleasant, and not-so-pleasant, surprise, it’s Korra. A very nearly naked Korra. Seven hells, the spirits above were sure getting a kick out of doing such a thing to his aging heart as it instinctively hammered against his chest.

 

Despite the clench in his jaw, Tarrlok inadvertently roved piercing depths over her practically naked body.

 

She was merely wrapped in a white towel, her brown locks swept into a messy bun atop her head, stray tendrils framing her face and nearly tempting him to tuck the strands behind her ear. The makeup she sported before was now smudged underneath her eyes delightfully while one of her hands grasped onto rolled pieces of clothes as she leaned casually against the door frame.

 

If it weren’t for the entertained spark in her eyes, Tarrlok wouldn’t have snapped himself out of this trance. Feeling heat rush to his cheeks, he attempted to divert his attention and clear his throat, croaking an unintelligible, “You’re up early.”

 

Gently offering him a knowing smirk and a twitch in her brows, her vivid cerulean eyes wander his naked chest as she easily moves past his frozen form. “You want a gold star for that observation?” She said, her voice thick with sarcasm as she exaggerates the sway of her hips underneath the towel. With equal parts eagerness and trepidation, he followed the hypnotizing movements of her hips, eying her curvaceous body in intrigue. Smooth, sun kissed skin, shapely curves and toned muscles. Spirits.

 

“I find myself incessantly questioning why I decided to take you in rather than those quiet teenagers at the orphanage.” He feigns an expression of contempt. Even this early in the morning, which he is still bewildered exactly why she was awake so early, her jesting and flirtatious mood hadn’t swayed since the night before.

 

Closing the door behind him, Tarrlok eyes her warily as a vile snort escapes her. Almost immediately, he’s hit with an exaggerated roll of her beautiful eyes over her shoulder, gazing up to him with a look that clearly said, you keep telling yourself that . “Oh, please. Your life would be soooo boring without my amazing self gracing your presence.” She says self-assuredly.

 

It was true, but he wouldn’t allow her the pleasure of validating her point by agreeing with her.

 

As if the spirits were toying with him, he watched her curiously. It’s stupefying to say the least. But what was more stupefying was the fact that she appeared comfortable and at ease with her surroundings. As if she weren’t literally and figuratively barging into his personal space. He didn’t mind. Quite the contrary, actually. The paternal side of him marveled at this level of content Korra displayed since she moved in, but what outweighed that perception was the side of him that couldn’t resist her, the sinful side of him that acknowledged that their blatant flirting and teasing had now more or less became foreplay of some sort.

 

With the soft jazz continuously playing in the background and Korra sifting through the pile of folded laundry on his chest of blankets, he coolly strode to her side, unable to remove his lecherous eyes from the young woman. As she bent further, he could see the enticing groove of her toned posterior peeking from the short length of the towel. He had to restrain himself the opportunity to see the bare junction between her thighs. It’s downright greedy, something that she had been protecting for someone special all her life, but the temptation certainly was there.

 

Spirits, get ahold on yourself! You act as if you were a virginal boy who had never seen a woman’s ass! Or rather, a lech for even wanting to fuck your adopted daughter! He nearly screamed to himself.

 

Clenching his jaw and shaking himself of those provocative thoughts, Tarrlok clears his throat once again. “I seriously doubt that.” He mumbled, folding his arms across his broad chest as he watched her search for whatever it was she was in need of.

 

As if she did not believe him, the blue eyed girl glanced up at him with a smug smile lining her plump lips and hummed in evident doubt. It was exactly an expression that had a shudder run down his spine and the familiar warmth settle in his lower abdomen. Plucking a sports bra from the pile of men's clothing and dangling it between her slim fingers with a smirk, Korra leisurely moved past him, once again, towards his bathroom.

 

How that piece of elastic material got woven into his clothes was beyond him. Maybe their housemaid somehow forgot to separate their clothing? She did only come once a week, Tarrlok reasoned. But why would she presume a distinctively woman’s piece of clothing was his? Either way, he didn’t think too much about it as Korra was already shoving his belongings on the counter to make enough space for her rolled pieces of cloth.

 

Despite repeatedly scolding himself to cease this game that they played, he couldn’t deny the tinge of curiosity creeping into his thoughts. Without waiting another moment, he followed her into his bathroom with slightly narrowed eyes.  

 

A chuckle was heard through the soft jazz and it immediately set his nerves on edge. “Y’know, if you wanted to watch, you could just ask nicely, instead of standing there like an old pervert.” She glanced over her shoulder, biting her lip, and Tarrlok instantly recognized the mischief swimming in her eyes. It’s the same look she acquired when she conjured up some ridiculous plan that manages to leave him feeling the familiar thrumming of arousal in the pit of his stomach. “By the way, you missed a spot,” she turned on her heels and faced him once he was at her front.

 

The words she said… he heard them, but they weren’t filtering through his normally quick witted brain. They lapsed into an awkward silence, the only sound coming from the turntable quietly playing jazz, but the muteness evidently was lost on the man.

 

Whatever spell she captivated him in, Tarrlok wasn’t sure he wanted to be released from the heated trance. In all honesty, he was still too distracted with the fact that she was almost fully naked in his presence and that she was in his bathroom as if she had every right to be in there. With one little flick of his wrist to untuck the edge of the towel near the side of her breast, it would fall away and reveal her supple skin to him. He had witnessed her in the nude before, truly unintentionally, her upper body, that is. But that was inappropriate, at any rate. Everything regarding this - regarding her - was inappropriate.

 

Those thoughts were abruptly put on hold when she let out a soft giggle and the surprisingly gentle pad of her thumb was felt on his jawline. What in all hells was she laughing about? Brows pinching together in confusion, Korra’s finger pulls away, only to reveal the tiniest bit of shaving cream on her thumb.

 

Spirits, the look on her face and that white foam covering the tip of her finger only reminded him of the dream he had a few days prior that had him struggling to take his regular morning piss.

 

In his dream, she wore nothing but one of his button up shirts on. He couldn’t recall the specifics as the more he thought about it, the less he could remember, much to his chagrin, but Tarrlok recalled she perched herself comfortably, enticingly on the cold marble counter and helped him shave the stubble dotting his jaw as he stood between her legs. Blue eyes gazed at him with a mix of curiosity, lust, and something hidden, something akin to adoration.

 

The feelings of content and tenderness were not lost on him when he woke up. But the events that transpired after his impromptu grooming circled his thoughts as he tugged at himself through his boxer-briefs, although he was torn between attempting to banish his arousal or prolong it. She’d press lingering kisses on his lips, on his neck, anywhere her plump lips could reach. Fragments between that blur and almost instantly resume with him wedged tightly inside her while she grasps at his disheveled hair and bare shoulder, moaning in need as he guided their rapid movements.

 

Trying to return to the matter at hand, Tarrlok swallows over his suddenly dry throat.

 

Patience evidently thinning, he sighs. “Why are you in here?” He questions, crossing his arms once again as he felt the beginnings of arousal shoot to his loins.

 

With the deadpan expression she offers him, he nearly rolls his eyes at the attitude he’s receiving at only seven in the morning. What he apparently did to incense the spirits were beyond him. It was sure to be a long day ahead of him if this continued.

 

“Because I need to shower.” She says as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, matching his stance by folding her arms underneath her breasts and shifting her weight from one foot to the other in an unspoken dare.

 

So this was how it’s going to be.

 

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression you had your own shower...? It may be my brain deteriorating, after all.” He queries with a lifted brow. Of course he’s wary. With how she’d been behaving around him, practically giving him a heart attack at any given opportunity, of course he’d be taut at the mere glance of those cerulean depths.

 

Despite himself, he has to admit the girl has the gift of charm, and whether it’s intentional or not, she’s using it to her benefit. Whoever fed her a deliberate plan in seducing him, which he had an inkling it had to do with a certain beryl eyed young woman, she knows how to loosen his tongue just as well as she knows exactly how to make him clam up. It’s rather pathetic to have such knowledge that she was doing this to him, that he allowed her to continue. But just as she was plotting ways knock him over, he was doing the same exact in his own mind, enjoying the alternating tactics to achieve the precise reactions either one wanted.

 

“Oh, no, you’re correct. But you see, I would be in my own bathroom if something with the pipes or whatnot weren’t broken.” She smiled all too innocently.

 

“The pipes?” He questioned, doubt coloring his usually smooth voice as his eyes narrowed further. He would’ve believed her claim if it weren’t for the pure smile etched on her face and the mischief practically swimming in her eyes, a complete contradiction to what she declared. He knew better than to believe the young woman, considering her track record of fabricating and exaggerating every minute detail to make a story more interesting to her ears.

 

“Mhm. It’s the darndest thing, too. It was working perfectly fine yesterday, but when I went to turn the water on earlier, it wasn’t coming out of the shower head. So, I left that for you to deal with.” Korra beamed cheerfully, shrugging nonchalantly and already making her way to turn the knob in the shower without his permission.

 

Even if he didn’t voice his approval, he couldn’t bring himself to deny her. Not when she appeared so delightfully alluring under the bright rays of the rising sun filtering through the blinds.

 

A sickeningly sweet smile lines Tarrlok’s lips as he said sarcastically, “I appreciate that.” Rolling his eyes in disbelief that a seventeen year old held a great deal of feigned authority over him, he very nearly pinched the bridge of his nose as he felt a headache beginning to form.

 

As if ignoring the sarcasm radiating from him, Korra continued happily, uttering, “I know you do.” Before stripping herself of the only material covering her supple young body, she pressed a hasty kiss to his freshly shaved cheek and nearly shoved him out of his own bathroom. His own bathroom.

 

What in all the spirits was going on?

 

—-

 

Tarrlok tried to occupy his mind on frivolous matters, anything other than the young woman bathing herself in his private quarters. The same place he himself bathed in not too long before she knocked on his door. It wouldn’t have taken such a toll on his rather frantic mind if it weren’t for the fact that she left the door ajar.

 

Of course he thought about closing the damn door, but the sinful portion of his mind decidedly ignored all rational thought. Instead, he stood frozen at the front of his chest of drawers and the mirror hanging on the wall, his pale gaze trained to focus on his reflection fastening the buttons of his crisp dress shirt rather than her bathing counterpart. The constant sound of jazz, water hitting marble, her soft humming, it all nearly made him mad. Like a flashback to the previous night, or rather the previous weeks, he was all too aware of what she was doing.

 

Movement at the corner of the mirror stirs him. Despite nearly applauding at how far his willpower had reached, it all crumbled to a puff of dust as his eyes inadvertently trailed to the corner of the mirror, watching past the half-closed door behind him.

 

Spirits. Even as the glass blurred her naked figure with dripping steam, the mere outline of her shapely body had his jaw clenching in tension, had the arousal shooting to his loins once again. She’s turning towards the source of water and washing the soap suds off her skin. He had never been more jealous of the bubbles of soap as it trailed over her shoulders and down the wet surface of her body.

 

Despite his mind screaming for him to tear his eyes away from her, he couldn’t for the life of him get ahold of sanity. He feels like a pervert. A voyeur. To the spirits above, she’s half his age and he can’t take his eyes off her.

 

She doesn’t even spare him by rubbing the suds off her body at a routine pace like any normal person would presumably do. For some wild, yet not so wild reason, he thinks Korra’s doing this on purpose. But maybe it was just paranoia. Or maybe not. It wouldn’t be outrageously ruled out considering the past few weeks of the incessant teasing. She proves his suspicions correct as she slowly washes her skin free of soap - first rubbing it off her shoulders and her toned arms, then across the smooth surface of her ample chest.

 

It’s fascinating. Tarrlok knew women could be meticulous about their skin care and cleansing rituals - as was he, he couldn’t deny that - but this was the first time he’d seen it in action and held this level of captivation and intimacy laced within her lethargic movements. Indeed, it is Korra, his adopted daughter, a teenager gradually reaching her years as an adult, but that did not stop him from watching the captivating sight when coherence was a lightyear away from his grasp. The mere slide of a woman’s touch on her own bare skin sends a shiver coursing through his veins.

 

She doesn’t pay particular attention to her breasts, but witnessing her caress herself, even in a casual fashion, makes the air catch in his throat. Despite the steam obscuring his view on her, the faint tinge of darkened color that marks her nipples produces a heated shudder running down his spine. The tempting image unfolding in front of his lust filled eyes compels him to strip himself of the very clothes he just put on and join her in the scorching heat.

 

And then she suddenly glances at him.

 

Tensing, his eyes instantly snaps back to his reflection in the mirror. She’s not an idiot, and he knows he’s probably been caught, judging from the sound of water shutting off and the glass sliding open.

 

But perhaps not. Despite himself, Tarrlok sneaks a hasty glance past that partially opened door to find she’s not looking in his direction anymore. Instead, she’s hidden behind the portion of the door out of his field of vision, a small mercy on his pounding heart, naturally. That is, until he catches a peek of the towel wrapped around her hair and a glimpse of her bare back and curvaceous posterior. But just as he caught a glimpse of her naked skin, she was once again hidden from his prying eyes.

 

Taking a deep breath in, he breaks this unhealthy fixation on the young woman and grasps the tie lying limply on his dresser, wrapping it around his neck as he goes through the monotonous process of tying the piece of silk.

 

He wanted to groan at the familiar heat of lust shooting to his loins. Considering the few weeks this game of theirs had been persisting, he’s perplexed that his resolve hadn’t shattered underneath the pressure of warmth settling low in his abdomen.

 

Revealing herself from his bathroom, towel slung over a forearm, she saunters her way to him as he faces her with apprehension. She sports that wicked elastic bra she plucked from his folded clothes and leggings that grip her toned limbs enticingly. His mind goes blank at the devilish smirk that lines her lips and only further propels him into a stupor as he caught the faint scent of his soap clinging to her skin. It was a sinful little thrill inside of possession that drove him to relish his unvoiced mark on her, even though it was temporary.

 

Sliding warm palms up his chest, Korra grasped the silk tie, tightening the piece of fabric perfectly around his neck. “Better?” She whispered with a quirk in her brow.

 

For once in his life, he couldn’t trust himself to speak. Instead, he opted with a rigid nod of his head, but despite himself, he blurts a barely audible, “Thanks.”

 

Stretching on her toes, she presses a chaste kiss to his cheek. It’s warm and electrifying, yet she lingers for a few moments more than necessary, something that doesn’t go unnoticed by the man nearly restraining every trace of his willpower from practically throwing her onto his bed to show her what exactly she’d been inducing on his poor soul.

 

When she’s gone, Tarrlok shifts his weight from one foot to the other. He’s half-aroused and completely ashamed. But as he stands there in the middle of his room, absorbing the events that just transpired like a fool, his semi-erection gradually fades, but the the thoughts of her don’t. In his mind, he sees her pressed against wet tiles of marble - her legs wrapped around his thrusting hips, slender fingers finding purchase in his hair - or sprawled provocatively on his mattress - the sheets perhaps twisting around her sleek, bare legs and her shirt riding up to reveal her smooth stomach, or maybe with her perfect posterior jutting up, as if begging to be stroked.

 

Pinching the bridge of his nose, Tarrlok had never been more certain that this day would be detrimental to his health.

 


 

Sweat dripping, Korra’s panting, music blasting, and Naga’s easily matching her pace beside her. Spirits, it felt good to get a decent jog to relieve some tension from her taut body. She scolds herself for denying a workout for the past two days. Granted, she was busy with school and such, but before moving into Tarrlok’s estate she swore she’d never use an excuse such as that get in her way of working out. Even a simple jog with Naga around the public garden would suffice, just like she was currently.

 

As the sun steadily rose, angry clouds above her began forming. It’s that time of the year that Korra revels in. The transition from the sweltering summer to the brisk chill of autumn and winter. But despite the nippy weather, her body is overheated with the lingering sparks from her shower.

 

It’s rather stupid of her to bathe before exercising. She acknowledges that. But she had to reason that being turned on for more than twenty-four hours was a lot more exhausting than she thought, so just the idea of her bed the previous night was infinitely more enticing than a cold shower that Asami’s suggested. Plus, the residual gunk from the night before truly made her skin itch after lying in bed with the tired pup for no more than a handful of minutes. And besides, Korra decided to test Mako’s advice for herself, which she had to nod in approval at the near immediate results from the older man.

 

Of course, she had her doubts. It was Mako, after all. The guy prompted this intriguing situation her and Tarrlok were immersed in now, and it only further irritated her that someone like Mako initiated such confusing feelings. It didn’t help that Tarrlok was an easy man to sway in the face of lust. But then again, many men were.

 

Although she relished the heated way he looked at her, relished the way he reciprocated and took her advances in stride, she could feel herself digging an early grave with the amount of intensifying lust.

 

She’s lost in her inner ramblings, lost in the pounding music when suddenly, she feels something intangible shift. She can’t quite name the feeling, but it’s definitely unsettling.

 

Attempting to focus on the gravel path before her, despite faltering in her step, Korra senses a pair of eyes on her. Or was it two pairs? Korra couldn’t tell, but her heart races and her hand tightens around Naga’s leash as she discreetly scans the practically empty area around her. Nothing appeared out of place. But something in her mind kept sending alarms that said otherwise. This was getting creepy. She knows a dangerous situation when she sees one. She’s seen those crime shows with crazy stalkers or lingering kidnappers, all of them centering around the uneasy feeling, and this was one of those times.

 

Involuntarily, Korra hastens her leisure jog to a run, turning onto another path filled with tall trees and dying flowers. She inadvertently increases the volume of her music, the harsh guitar and beating drums and screaming voice serves as a much needed distraction. She chalks it up to her paranoia, her nerves have been persistently on edge, after all.

 

But despite shrugging the feeling off to her own madness, the sensation of eyes burning a hole through the back of her head never leave until she passes the west gates of the garden.

 

—-

 

Korra had never been to City Hall. And honestly, she had no intention to start now, but staying in a rather silent room with Noatak unnerved her. After her jog around the public garden, her nerves were still on edge, and sitting in a mute kitchen with Naga sound asleep on the couch and the older brother reading the newspaper only made her heart pound against her chest in agitation. Noatak truly didn’t make her uncomfortable, although he had his moments. Instead, it was the deafening silence that set her nerves in unease. By the time she ran home with Naga, she knew she was more than paranoid. From the intangible feeling of nonexistent eyes watching her every move to the tiniest of sounds of the wind building outside the warm confines of Tarrlok’s estate, everything was putting her on edge.

 

She willed herself to calm down, and in turn decided to distract herself. Loosening her brown locks to her natural waves, Korra hastily changed into an obsidian tube top, pairing it with a pleated, plaid skirt that stopped just above her mid thigh and a black belt cinched around her waist. Covering herself from the developing wind, she draped a windbreaker over her shoulders and tied her usual leather shoes on before wandering towards the opposite side of the city.

 

As she strode through the empty halls and leisurely swung a plastic bag with greasy take out, the scent of papers and wood filling the air, she found a room on the first floor with a door left slightly opened. Peeking through the crack, Korra finds a group of old men and an old woman sitting at a circular table. The… meeting was it?... looked fairly serious. Something she was not at all comfortable with. Korra’s about to shrug it off, to leave the elders to their own devices, when she catches sight of a certain long haired man absentmindedly twirling a pen between his fingers.

 

Cracking a smile, an invisible light bulb sparked at the idea. She turns on her heels and resolutely sets out to find his office. She’d been looking for him, of course, considering she bought them lunch, but she had hoped he ran into her rather than Korra setting out to find his office. She had to admit, it was tiresome to be such an amazing daughter. Korra chuckles to herself, knowing how prissy the man is, he’d probably have an office with a view.

 

She circles the first floor, then the second, then the third, gliding by golden plaques of unknown names and names she recalled hearing on the news. It’s when she catches sight of the elevator that Korra immediately stops short with a careless glance of her eyes.

 

Councilman Tarrlok, the plaque read. And predictably enough, it had his credentials engraved underneath his name, unlike the other so-called politicians. Such a priss.

 

Straightening her spine, Korra scans the area for any indication of life coming her way before quietly slipping past the double doors. Much to her dismay, she already felt infinitely more egotistical just by opening the man’s door. She was right, he did have a gorgeous view. But by the spirits, nothing short of luxury got past Tarrlok. She nearly rolled her eyes at the audacity. Children were starving, people were scouring the chilly streets of the city. Yet, he practically snuggled in this spacious office of his for what she presumed was most of his adult life.

 

Closing the doors with a soft click, her eyes instantly trailed to his desk. It’s neat with little to no personal touches. She genuinely wonders why. Any normal man in his late thirties would have a picture of someone special propped on the edge of their desk, yet Tarrlok’s is bare with typical office supplies and a closed laptop. Placing the bag of food atop his desk and grazing the pads of her fingers across the smooth wood, she distractedly makes her way to the bookcase perched on the adjacent wall.

 

From political law books to criminal justice essays, Tarrlok had them all stacked upon each other. She’s in evident disbelief with the man. How he managed to find time to read this many books, as well as the ones in his home office, baffles Korra. She barely had time to read that steamy novel of his with senior year riding her ass! She’s lost in thought and a hint of admiration, but just a tiniest hint, when she strays on a lone brown folder squished against the frame of the bookcase.

 

Curiosity piqued, Korra reaches for the folder. But just as the tips of her fingers brush the harsh material, the door opens, revealing an all too serious Tarrlok engrossed in the papers in his grasp. Korra turns on her heels to face him with arms folded across her chest and her weight distributed on one foot.

 

At her deliberate movement, she witnesses him visibly bristle, pale blue eyes bulging as they caught sight of her smirking form across the room. “Spirits, Korra!” Tarrlok squeaked, nearly sending the papers in his grasp flying into the air while he clutched at his chest.

 

Just from the pained look on his face, Korra threw her head back with a undignified bark of laughter. This was all too easy. Korra knew she said that going along with Asami’s plan continuously made her feel silly, but she truly didn’t think Tarrlok would be this easy swayed by her mere presence. Maybe she was truly as amazing as she thought she was. “Hey, asshat.” She greeted through her laughter and gasps of air.

 

As his brows pinch in irritation, his glare is directed towards her. He grumpily strides to his desk, pausing for a moment when he catches sight of the familiar logo imprinted on the plastic bag, and straightens the stack of papers in his grasp with sharp taps on the wood before settling himself on his chair. This only exacerbates her mirth with a vile snort that had Tarrlok recoil in his seat. Shaking his head, the man rubs at his temples and sighs exaggeratedly. “Why aren’t you at home? It’s the weekend, teenagers favor staying home or wandering through the city, or am I wrong?” He asked with tired eyes.

 

How was he already tired? It’s not even noon. Korra shrugs carelessly, maybe it was just signs of aging.

 

Coughing into her hand to control the giggles shaking her shoulders, Korra grinned. “Oh, you’re right. I mean you should know since you were a teenager decades ago. Shouldn’t be too hard to remember with that not-so-senile brain of yours. Right, old man?” She beamed whilst he narrowed his eyes to mere slits. Korra had to bite her lip to stifle another shriek of laughter threatening to escape her throat lest he really did get into a sour mood.

 

As much as it was fun to pester the man, having the stubborn and temperamental side of him emerge would only further dampen her already dejected mood since picturing her mother’s presence earlier that morning.

 

“A sharp tongue is always flattering on a woman.” Tarrlok huffed, apparently trying to appear as though he weren't fazed by her intangible hits.

 

Smirking, Korra slowly saunters to the other side of the office with her hands clasped behind her back. “So, I’m a woman now?” She queries, her voice practically radiating smugness as she glances at him over her shoulder.

 

He must have been exceptionally tired to barely make a dent to their game. Korra had to admit to herself, even if it was a difficult thing to do considering who she was talking about, that their offhand insults and teasing were fun. It definitely beats sitting across a silent Noatak. But since he was in an irritable mood, she relished the small amount of time that she could insult him. Oh, how the tables have turned.

 

There was a moment of silence between them, the only sound of his chair creaking as he leaned back to stretch long limbs. “You will be soon, considering your birthday is in a little over a month from now.” He quipped, the almost bored, somewhat impatient expression on his face becoming more and more evident under the shifting sun rays filtering through the numerous windows.

 

Wiping the smirk off her face in favor of a sickly sweet smile, Korra cradled her hands directly over her heart. “Aww, you remembered.” She cooed.

 

Almost immediately, she saw Tarrlok’s piercing blue eyes roll to the spirits above. The cool and collected demeanor of his wavering the slightest bit as he tried to keep his patience in line. “Spirits,” he practically groaned.

 

Giggling, Korra waved her hand in dismissal. “I’m just joking. No need to have an aneurysm, old man.” She swiveled on her feet and glanced around the shelves upon shelves decorating the office and the luxurious paintings adorning the pale blue walls. Despite her lethargic pace, Korra can feel his eyes watching her every move. It felt similar to her jog in the park, but this held familiarity with it, as it was Tarrlok’s gaze on her, after all.

 

Sighing, Tarrlok straightens his posture in his seat and lifts a finger to inquisitively peek inside the plastic bag. “Seriously, why aren’t you at home?” He asks tiredly.

 

Smiling to herself at the soft sound of plastic rustling, she stretched her arms above her head. “Well, Noatak finally woke up after I took Naga for a walk and I couldn't stand being in the silence with him. I was about to take a nap or go out to get food, but then I wondered, what is my dear father doing? He must be so terribly bored without me. So I decided to hop on the next train, get some takeout, and pay you a visit, only to find out you were in a meeting and you’re apparently already exhausted.” Korra spoke loud enough for him to hear with the way she closed in on a single picture perched on a nearly filled shelf.

 

There was a woman. She had long, dark braided hair, tan skin matching her and Tarrlok’s, a purple hue woven into her pale blue irises, and a smile that had one side quirked higher than the other. The woman sported a lovely off-white dress embroidered with lace. Although the photo appeared aged, she looked beautiful, timeless even.

 

“Very considerate of you.” Tarrlok spoke up, not bothering to hide the sarcasm coating his voice.

 

Ignoring the man’s bitterness, she remained gazing at the photo. “Who’s this lady?” Korra questioned, gesturing towards the framed picture without breaking eye contact with the woman. Obviously, it was someone who meant a lot to Tarrlok. Korra assumed it was an old lover, an old flame he still had feelings for, but she wasn’t sure. The picture seemed a bit dated.

 

It went deadly quiet for a few moments, and Korra was beginning to think he didn't hear her, but when she glanced at his now taut face, he seemed to look as though he were contemplating life. What in all hell? Did she say something wrong? Did she manage to break Tarrlok?

 

“... My mother,” he uttered, barely audible to Korra’s ears. His whispered answer was enough to make her tense up. She knew how he was when it came to his family, it’s somewhat similar to how quiet she gets with her own.

 

There’s something in his expression that compelled Korra to lighten the mood. Whether it was because she hated seeing someone so high-and-mighty as him feel vulnerable or not, she did not know. Letting out a pondering hum, she leaned in closer to the picture and tilted her head. “She’s really pretty… How’d she make you and Noatak?” The blue eyed girl asked with mirth, glancing over her shoulder to the taut man. When all he offered her was silent deadpan look, Korra leaned back with a hand propped on her hip and shifted her weight from one foot to the other. “You, sir, need to take a joke for once.” She rolled her cerulean eyes.

 

Visibly shaking the tautness from his muscles, Tarrlok offered her a diplomatic smile. “Yes, well, considering many women think I’m attractive, I’d say I inherited her good genetics.” He gloated. At least he was trying to lighten the mood as well. It wouldn’t do if she unintentionally dampened his mood and stayed that way for the remainder of the day.

 

Korra let out a sheepish giggle, leisurely pacing back and forth throughout his office. “Kidding aside, where is she now? You never mentioned anything about her.” She wondered aloud, cringing as she strayed on a particular painting hung proudly on the wall. Whatever was in this man’s head that made him actually think it was a good idea to hang a portrait of himself was beyond her comprehension. As much as he was handsome to look at, his ego was definitely off putting.

 

But just as she realized they lapsed into another tense silence, Tarrlok sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. The man was in desperate need of some relaxation, considering the amount of stress he apparently was under.

 

“Korra, you’re giving me a headache with your loitering.” He grumbles, one hand fidgeting with his pen while the other ran through his stupidly perfect hair.

 

Turning to face him, Korra slowly strode to his front with an exaggerated sway to her hips, easily moving between the two chairs placed at the front of his desk. “What should I do then?” She challenges with a smirk lining her lips, folding her arms underneath her breasts. With the way his eyes flickered down to her breasts for a fraction of a second before warily watching her, she allowed her smirk to widen triumphantly. She knew an outfit like this would get his attention.

 

Watching her unblinkingly in challenge, Tarrlok begins cautiously. “Since you insist on staying here for who-knows-what-reason, just sit down and be quiet while I finish the rest of these documents. It’ll only take an hour or so. Surely you’re capable of keeping quiet for that long, right?” He asks condescendingly, as though she were a child throwing a tantrum.

 

“We’ll see.” She simply mutters, saccharine practically dripping from her voice.

 

As if he decidedly deemed her answer adequate, Tarrlok resolutely ignores her presence and resumes his work on the relatively small stack of papers. Well, it was significantly smaller than the ones he brought home. Korra remained standing at his front, boredly watching him as she tapped her fingers on her forearm in an unvoiced rhythm.

 

No, no, no. This won’t do. Korra can’t simply stay put and obey one’s commands, especially not when it came to Tarrlok. When has she ever obeyed his wishes in the first place? Well, besides a few times when it actually mattered. With an exaggerated sigh, she watches him for any reaction. Nothing. So, she repeated the huff, hoping he’d give her the attention she wanted from him. But once again, nothing. The only indication resembling a reaction was the tiniest clench in his jaw. But he remained in his seat, writing in his prissy, slanted way before skimming the propositions within the paper.

 

Rather than stand there like a fool, Korra meandered towards his side. Yet there was nothing from the man. Not even the tiniest twitch of his brow or an inaudible sigh at her ‘loitering’ as he said. Decidedly trying to catch his attention, she hopped onto his desk, perching herself at the edge and crumpling some of the documents just as she had the night before.

 

“Korra,” he chastised.

 

With one glance from Tarrlok, Korra smiled innocently in a look that clearly said, I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m ‘keeping quiet’ like you said.

 

Tarrlok must’ve clearly read her thoughts by the way his jaw clenched and eyes closed as though he were attempting to reel in his patience. Spirits, if she only knew it was this easy to rattle him, she would’ve done so much more since moving in with the man. Either way, one hour with him, deliberately distracting him or not, she ventured to guess it was a lot better than spending the afternoon with Noatak in silence.

 


 

The hours spent in city hall weren’t as monotonous as it typically was. He was undoubtedly surprised when Korra visited him. And what surprised him more was she guessed his favorite food from the restaurant across the street, yakisoba with a side of matcha mochi, naturally. But he did have an inkling that she simply asked the employees there, considering he paid a visit every other day.

 

Whatever it was, her presence was a nice gesture, despite the lingering exhaustion and irritation from the dreary meeting. That is, until he saw what she was wearing. Spirits, the girl had a knack for startling him, for nearly stopping his heart from functioning. With the mess that happened earlier that morning, Tarrlok handled her impromptu change infinitely better than witnessing her in the nude. Although, it still had him clam up and compel him to watch her every move.

 

Even as they ate in his office - Korra perched comfortably on his desk as she nibbled on her onigiri, while he himself leaned back in his chair and cautiously chewed his noodles - he was wary of her.

 

She looked absolutely delightful, and despite himself, he felt a shift in her demeanor once she swallowed the last of the rice, leaning back and watching him with an indecipherable look in her eye as they shared the box of mochi. Although they made small talk - his irate mood restricted his tolerance for anything more than that - with their normal banter here and there, her lingering heated glances felt similar to the previous night.

 

But now?

 

Tarrlok didn’t know how he could focus on their leisurely conversation. Not when the knowledge of what Noatak just whispered to him lingered in his mind. Why he had to say it as he was beginning to relax, as they were receiving their plate of raw beef, was beyond him. Spirits, the complications that could occur just because of this could nearly have his carefully crafted career crumble into a million pieces. Apparently, their ‘old friends’ found a way to contact Noatak. Not only was the news unsettling, but dealing with new propositions from work and having to dodge, rather poorly, at Korra’s advances was enough of a terrible day to have his muscles and nerves exhausted from constantly being tense. But not just her advances, but her inquiries also.

 

Of course, he pegged her someone who was curious, she was a teenager, after all. But he wasn’t expecting to be questioned about his family, more specifically his mother. Tarrlok acknowledged that she doesn't know any better, but just the slightest mention of his family was enough of a headache that could instantly turn his mood sour.

 

As the waitress set three bowls of rice and ramen in front of them, Noatak grabbed ahold of the plate filled with rolled meat from Tarrlok’s hands, effectively breaking him from his thoughts. “So, cupcake. I heard you paid your father a visit while he was working. I was wondering where you went.” He rasped, the sly hint to his voice not lost on Tarrlok as he set pieces of meat on the grill with a sizzle.

 

He was up to something, the lilt in his voice was the clear indicator, but Tarrlok couldn't quite detect exactly what it was just yet. Cautiously watching his brother cook the sizzling meat, he could practically feel himself deteriorating from the paranoia. Maybe he just needed sleep? That could be it.

 

“He’s not my dad.” Korra said simply, taking her set of chopsticks in hand and sliding a bowl of ramen towards her before slurping a mouthful of noodles in a rather distasteful yet endearing manner.

 

As if she fell into Noatak’s trap, a grotesque smile quirked the corners of his mouth upward. “Really? I wasn’t aware, considering you revel calling him, ‘daddy’. But why should I have a say in a situation like this? He does have a soft spot for you, or should I say a hard-” Noatak began with a twitch in his brow.

 

“-Noatak, leave it.” Tarrlok interjected, desperately hoping Korra didn't catch the implication. He was in no mood to bear such teasing from the both of them, specifically Noatak. He just needed to get through the night at the restaurant then he could fall asleep in that luxurious bed of his practically calling his name.

 

With a sharp click of his tongue, Noatak hissed a, “Don’t act so moody, brother. It’s rather obnoxious.” Most of the venom in his harsh voice dissipated, but a hint of malice still lingered. Shaking himself, his brother continued with a vigilant eye focused on Tarrlok. “Actually, I was thinking-“

 

“-Don’t rupture a blood vessel,” Tarrlok interrupted in a barely audible insult that was just loud enough for Korra to snort in amusement as he daintily sipped at the scorching broth.

 

Flipping the cooking meat, Noatak continued, unfazed. “I was thinking we should go to a bar. You’re clearly upset, which is only further irritating my mood, and cupcake here looks like she doesn’t want to go home just yet.” He observed with one glance of his eyes, gesturing towards her body across the booth with his chopsticks.

 

“Noatak, she’s underage.” He pipes up ingenuously, deliberately ignoring his brother’s intense scrutiny.

 

“That didn’t stop us from trying when we were her age,” Noatak insinuated. Of course, he had to bring up the past just as Korra had to loiter around his office and nearly interrogate him into confiding about his own mother. Okay, maybe he was exaggerating, but he couldn’t deny that she did bring up his past, considering she dawdled around his office. There would be a time and place for that, and it evidently was not today.

 

With her interest piqued, Korra’s ears perked up like a pup at the mention of their teenage years. “Really? This is news to me.” She mumbled through her mouthful of ramen.

 

“Just know that we managed to get in most of the time due to your father’s silver tongue.” Noatak spoke up with a sly smile evident in his voice, nudging Tarrlok in the arm as if that would alleviate his vexation. If he thought it would, it clearly didn’t, judging from the glare pointedly directed towards his older brother.

 

“Hmm,” Korra hummed in thought as she picked a few pieces of beef from the grill and placed it into her bowl of rice. It was nothing to think about, that is, until he suddenly felt it. The slow and deliberate slide of what felt like a bare foot crawling up the length of his leg. Pale blue eyes flickered from his bowl of noodles to the young woman sitting across from him. Those darkened cerulean depths glimmered with mischief that Tarrlok couldn't stop himself from unintentionally shivering at her touch, from his heart from instinctively hastening its pace. “C’mon, Tarrlok.” She enticed innocently.

 

Ignoring her quip, moreso due to the fact that he was all too distracted with the foot roving back and forth on his stretched limbs, he cleared his throat. He prayed to the spirits that she facilitate anything more.

 

But as luck was not in his favor throughout the day, once he turned to Noatak, she took it a step further. Her foot crawled up to his lap, nearly centering on his loins hardening from arousal. Grasping at her ankle as smoothly as he could without Noatak’s detection, Tarrlok stops her advancing foot a mere inch from his crotch. From the corner of his eyes, a smile curves her lips, hiding it behind her chewing. “Brother, they’ll card her.” Tarrlok says in what he hoped was his smooth and steady voice.

 

“So you say, but there is a bar on the other side of the city that doesn’t.” Noatak suggests indifferently. Fortunately for Tarrlok, and Korra, his brother seemed oblivious with the events underneath the table. Once he felt her concede, the full weight of her foot in his lap, he releases his firm hold on her ankle. But despite releasing her, she makes no intention of moving her foot from his inner thigh.

 

“How in seven hells do you know about this?” He questions in feigned astonishment, taking a healthy gulp of water into his parched mouth. Well, he was at some level of shock, considering a bar such as the one Noatak mentioned existed under his governing. He’ll have to work on that another time, he duly noted.

 

“My little birdy tells me things, remember?” Noatak speaks over the clatter of a waiter cleaning a nearby table. They lapse into a moment of silence as Tarrlok absorbs the information, narrowing his eyes in thought.

 

“C’mon, daddy. I’ll be a good girl and I promise I won’t drink.” Korra pipes up, the exaggeratedly sweet and innocent tone of hers coloring her voice. Her words and actions are a direct contradiction with one another. Instead of removing her foot from his lap, she somehow conjures up the courage to press further, easily crawling closer and closer to the growing bulge between his thighs. The gall this young woman had was more than he had ever experienced throughout his years with the opposite sex. “You two need a designated driver, after all.” She offered sweetly.

 

Spirits, it was getting harder and harder to think with the heat from the grill and Korra blatantly teasing him underneath the table. Never did he imagine he’d be in this situation. Never did he imagine she’d take their flirting this far, especially in a public setting and his brother sitting beside him. Gods, if Noatak ever found out, he’d never hear the end of it… alongside the revulsion that colors his face an unhealthy blue.

 

Swallowing the mouthful of noodles over the lump in his throat, he nearly chokes when her foot pauses over his groin. Before Noatak gave him a look that clearly had him suspicious, Tarrlok coughs to clear his throat. The temptation to loosen his tie was becoming unbearable, the heat was getting to him. It’s just a natural reaction, any man would react the same, he tries to rationalize. But then her foot strokes his growing arousal, his hand tightening around his chopsticks. How she remains unfazed by picking pieces of meat from the grill, besides the flicker of heat in those irises, is beyond him.

 

“You don’t drive, Korra.” He replied huskily. If he says anything more, he’s afraid something unintelligible will undoubtedly spill from his loosening lips.

 

Smiling as though she weren’t doing anything wrong, Korra let out a small hum and filled her mouth with rice and beef, chewing thoughtfully. “Huh, would you look at that?” She shrugged heedlessly. Resuming her teasing, the friction grew between them. Tarrlok acknowledged he could easily flick her foot off of him, that he could easily stop this escalating mess, but he had to get enough willpower to get his hand to order what his body didn’t want.

 

She circled and stroked, lethargically increasing her pace. Tarrlok honestly didn’t know what to do. He hadn’t expected a simple night out to go this wrong. His body was clearly enjoying this far too much, judging from the evident bulge growing harder and harder under her ministrations, and he knew this would do nothing to cure his impure thoughts of his adopted daughter.

 

Clenching his jaw, Tarrlok’s resistance was at its brink. “Fine! You two are contributing to my headache and I’d honestly rather go home to sleep it off, but considering you both will persist even when I say no, we’ll go to the damn bar.” He hisses in distress.

 

Suddenly, she pulled away, leaving Tarrlok irritated and nearly allowing a vexed growl escape him, but somehow had some rationality from stopping it short, playing it off by taking another sip of water.

 

“There’s the old brother I know.” Noatak harshly patted at his brother’s back. Tarrlok on the other hand practically glared at Noatak and Korra. Spirits, how did this day come crumbling down on his expectations?

 

He knew Korra was persistent and impulsive, but to have the gall to do that and just stop so suddenly was downright cruel. He was tempted to pull her aside, to reprimand her, but he was under the impression she’d enjoy it, considering her current state of arousal… and he didn’t trust himself with staying alone with her lest he found himself pinning her to the nearest wall in the bathroom.

 

Getting back to the matter at hand, Tarrlok sighed. “If she gets carded, we’re leaving.” He warned hastily, pointing his chopsticks towards his brother in frustration.

 

Hands held up as if he were caught thieving sweets, the short haired brother chuckled grotesquely. “She won’t. Trust me.” Noatak reassured. Despite the half-assed consolation, Tarrlok had an inkling something wrong was bound to happen.

Chapter Text

 

She knew she shouldn’t be concerned - this was Korra she was thinking about, she’s more than capable of handling herself - but she couldn’t stop herself from worrying.

 

It’d been a lazy day, mainly sleeping in until noon before heading off to Iroh’s apartment deep into the city. Asami had been preoccupied with her date with Iroh that she barely gave it much thought. But now? The sun had lowered long ago and the angry clouds that loomed over Republic City throughout the day finally gave into the impending heavy rain. Neon lights hazily streamed through his windows and although she’d found comfort in the downpour since she was a little kid, the thought kept nagging at her brain.

 

She knew she should be relaxed into his warmth, especially now that they were lazing around in sweats, settled underneath a warm blanket on top of his rug with two mugs of steaming coffee beside them and a scary movie playing. But why is it bothering her so much?

 

Checking her phone for what she thought was the billionth time, no new messages popped up. With a tap of her finger at the side of her phone in evident thought, Iroh reluctantly broke her silence. “Pudding pop, you’ll miss the movie if you keep checking your phone.”

 

“I know, sorry.” Asami apologized hastily, flipping her phone down so she couldn’t see the screen.

 

She cuddled further into Iroh’s side, tilting her head into the crook of his neck as he draped an arm around her shoulders. “Who are you checking up on, anyways?” He asked with a rumble.

 

“Korra. I was going to ask her a question about the project Mr. Tenzin mentioned, and I know it could wait until Monday, but it’s so strange.” She mumbled with clear bewilderment.

 

“What is?” He questioned, breaking his gaze from the movie to the woman in his arms.

 

“She’s not answering her phone,” Asami said, biting her lower lip. Korra usually answered within a time span, so of course she’d be worried if she hasn’t responded like she normally did. Right? Maybe she was overthinking this. Spirits, she really needed to calm down.

 

She felt his shrug in thought against her own shoulder. “Maybe she’s busy.” He suggested.

 

“She usually answers which is weird for her not to, but…” then the idea popped into her mind. Wait a minute. Iroh might be onto something. “Maybe she is.” She mumbled, gazing at her lover as if he had something fascinating on his face.

 

Even if it was just a mere thought, her lips curved into a satisfied smile. Maybe she was with Mr. Nobody, maybe Korra took her advice to heart and needed this time alone with him. Huh. Asami knew there was a possibility that she was wrong and that she could probably be taking a nap or something along those lines, but thinking she was doing certain things with Mr. Nobody made her heart swell in pride.

 

Golden eyes narrowed in wariness before he asked, “Why are you looking at me like that?”

 

Catching her lower lip between her teeth, Asami let out an all too innocent giggle. “Oh, no reason, honey.” She dismissed, moving from her comfortable spot in favor of straddling his hips. She bent down to capture his lips with her own, sliding her hands over his broad shoulders to circle his neck.

 

“Asami,” he uttered brokenly between their kisses. “We’re missing the movie.”

 


 

When they arrived at the bar, one thing Korra noted with raised brows was the fact that it didn’t appear run-down as she thought it would be. With the way Noatak described it over the sizzle of cooking meat, it seemed as though it would be ragged and rough around the edges, she reasoned. But it’s quite the opposite, really. It honestly surprised her that it looked like any normal bar with neon signs flashing the word ‘cheers’ behind the window. One other thing was for sure, the establishment was filled to the brim with drunken idiots or idiots rapidly on their way to a drunken stupor.

 

She didn’t think it was a problem. So long as they didn’t touch her, that is, unless they wanted a black eye or to be hunched over a toilet vomiting their money up. But Tarrlok on the other hand, well, Korra could practically see the steam rising from his head as his anger boiled further.

 

“Noatak,” he hissed, his body taut as if someone were pulling his muscles with strings.

 

Letting out an amused chuckle, Noatak shrugged indifferently. “So it’s a little packed…”

 

“Really?” Tarrlok shot back in evident sarcasm underneath his breath. Although his smooth voice was almost inaudible with the music that was too loud, even for her own tastes, and the usual cacophony that came with cramming too many people in a small space, Korra cracked a smile at his irritation and Noatak’s immediate pointed glare towards his brother.

 

“Will you stop, brother? You act as if you’re the only one with piss and vinegar in your system.” He said levelly, grasping his brother’s wrist for one of the employees to stamp and gesturing for Korra to do the same.

 

“I’m only acting this way because I know this is a bad idea.” Tarrlok grumbled with a shake of his head as he watched the employee stamp the dorsum of a much slender hand.

 

Both Korra and Tarrlok now bore matching, underage pink stamps on their hands. So long as he was claiming responsibility for her, he wasn’t allowed near the bar. Although she egged Tarrlok on to tag along with her and Noatak, it was a little awkward to be sure, and that feeling was made worse by her so-called Uncle’s gravelly chuckles.

 

“How is it a bad idea? I told you they wouldn’t card her.” Noatak reasoned with a mocking grin plastered on his face.

 

“Yes, but now we’re like little kids attending a carnival with dainty stamps... And that’s not what I meant, in any case.” Tarrlok said as he shrugged off his coat. Korra did the same with her jacket at realizing the humid air around them heated her skin a little too much.

 

“I think it’s rather endearing.” Noatak ignored his brother’s inner distress with a teasing quip.

 

“Noatak,” Tarrlok warned.

 

“Spirits, take a joke, brother. And since you can’t get your own alcohol, I’ll get our drinks while you take cupcake upstairs.” He said as he shook his head, pointing towards the back end of the bar where the stairs were hidden from view. Korra squinted in the dim, smoky room, following Noatak’s finger.

 

“Fine, you know what I like.” Tarrlok grumbled, blindly grasping Korra’s hand behind him to bring her slightly to his front and have an arm curved securely around her stomach. It was all Korra could do to comply, considering the two practically disregarded her presence behind them. Normally, the proximity would have made her a little uneasy, but here in this crowded space.... It was comforting to know her ass wasn’t going to receive an anonymous grope.

 

With his hands where they were at, unconsciously rubbing circles over her skin, it was rather amusing yet somewhat intriguing to know that something other than herself was prodding at Tarrlok’s stone-cold walls. She knew something happened between the brothers over dinner, but she didn’t want her mood to dampen further, especially with what she induced underneath the table on the poor man as they ate their meal. She was set in a triumphant feeling all throughout her day, despite it wavering for a few moments, but that didn’t stop Korra from plotting. Asami’s and unfortunately Mako’s voices constantly echoed in her mind. Maybe an opportunity will arise.

 

Korra very nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt his lips brushing along her earlobe as he rose his voice over the pulsing music. “Go straight back and up two flights of stairs.”

 

She nodded back and began pushing and twisting her way through the masses with Tarrlok right behind her. Not once did he let go of her, ensuring that they didn’t get separated in the crowd. The only other time she could recall seeing so many people in one place was during this huge sale at the end of the year that one of her old ‘friends’ dragged her to. Although, even that couldn’t really compare to the tightly packed people jostling for better spots. Never in her life had she gotten so many elbows in her breasts or had to literally push at someone’s back just to get through.

 

But that didn’t even include the, Hey, sweet cheeks , and, Wanna ride my pole, girly? I’ll make sure it’s worth your while , she heard in passing.

 

“Fuck off,” she hissed, clearly in no mood to be toyed with unless it was specifically the man behind her who’s hand tightened around her middle and who’s glare could practically be felt at the blatant flirting.

 

They finally broke free of the crowd, Korra very nearly stumbling as she collided with the first step. Tarrlok’s arm tightened around her waist once again to keep her on her feet and she nodded quickly when he shouted if she was okay. She climbed the narrow stairs quickly, eager to get out of the chaos below and up to where she could already tell it was much quieter.

 

The second floor of the bar appeared to be reserved for card games and darts. The heavy bass and the shouts from below penetrated through still, but the sounds were muffled due to the thick floor. Korra let out a relieved sigh and surreptitiously tried to straighten her hair as they walked across the room for the next flight of steps. “Is it always like that?” she asked, turning to glance over her shoulder at Tarrlok.

 

His brow quirked higher before reaching out to tuck back a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “I don’t frequent bars enough to know, but the ones that I have been to are significantly less… compressed, if you will.” He replied, gently ushering her out of the way when a group of giggling, drunken women stumbled by, heading for a table full of men playing a round of cards. “At least it’s a little quieter up here.”

 

Korra hummed in agreement, her eyes drifting over the occupants of the floor curiously just before she started up the steps. Most of them were already too drunk or too consumed in their conversations to realize their presence.

 

At the top of the second flight of steps was a room lit entire by dim, warm lights. A bar area was off to the right with only a few people sitting at it, completely wrapped up in their own quiet lives. Here, the noise from below was reduced to a dull rumble, one that was easily broken by the sharp staccato clatter of pool balls hitting one another. Korra counted six tables in the surprisingly large space, separated by a partition to offer the illusion of privacy. Each alcove had a low table and comfortable looking booth with it to provide a break from the game. Only three of the tables were currently in use, though one group looked more willing to talk than shoot.

 

Tarrlok’s hand pressed into her exposed lower back lightly, urging her toward one of the back corner tables away from the other groups. Once she tossed her jacket onto the booth and Tarrlok neatly draped his, Korra strayed from him, sauntering towards the pool table to drag her fingertips over the textured surface. “Darts… pool… Do you know how to play?” She asked, glancing over her shoulder.

 

“Pool?” He questioned as he folded the sleeves of his shirt to his elbows and loosened his tie around his neck.

 

“Mhm,” Korra hummed in agreement once again. Though she had to look away onto something irrelevant lest she felt that familiar thrumming through her body at the mere sight of him.

 

“I do.” The older man confirmed, rifling through his back pocket to place a cigarette between his lips with the corresponding switch of his lighter.

 

“Is it easy? Hard? I’ve always wanted to learn, but a pool table isn’t necessarily always within reach.” She wondered, her fingers twisting nervously as she circled the perimeter of the table.

 

Easily following her movements and exhaling the smoke filling his lungs, Tarrlok retrieved a cue stick near the wall, his hand curling around the wood as he matched her gaze with an unspoken challenge. “Well, we’ll have to fix that, won’t we?” He drawled, his piercing blue eyes glinting mischievously. “Just as any game, the level of difficulty depends on the person and their set of strengths and weaknesses rather than the actual game itself.” He continued seriously, although there was still a hint of his lingering charm.

 

Giving him a slow, teasing smile in response, Korra asked coyly, “So does that mean I have to call you, Mr. Tarrlok?”

 

His chuckle was low and made a delicious shiver run down her spine. “I’d deem it as unnecessary, but that is entirely up to you, sweetheart.” He said as she returned to his front.

 

She took the cue stick he handed to her, frowning at how oddly imbalanced it felt in her hands. It was an awkward thing to handle, that was for sure. She wasn’t even entirely sure how she was supposed to hold it. Korra watched as Tarrlok began digging pool balls from the pockets lining the table, rolling them gently into the center. Even though she knew she was leading their so-called game, she couldn’t deprive herself of catching the enticing sight of his back moving, or his exposed arms, as he tended to the table. Spirits, she really needed to get her mind out of the gutter, knowing full well that Tarrlok was infinitely more knowledgable in this department than her. He gave a nod to indicate the wall behind her and asked, “Mind passing the rack over?”

 

Korra jumped and immediately turned to do as he asked, feeling heat rush to her cheeks. As long as he didn’t catch the growing flush, she’d be fine. There was a long pole with what looked almost like brass knuckles on it… some odd little cubes… Ah! There it was. She pulled the triangular shaped item out from a small space between shelves and handed it over to him, watching curiously as he began positioning the balls into place.

 

“There are rules for racking the balls,” Tarrlok began, spinning the balls in their holder so that the numbers were facing up as he kept his cigarette between his fingers in one hand. “The one ball is typically at the starting corner. Eight ball is always in the middle. The two outer corners have to be opposites of each other, one striped and one solid. You can put any of the other balls wherever you want so long as they follow the stripe-solid pattern.”

 

She nodded and stepped back as he aligned the balls with a spot on the table. Tarrlok scooped up the only ball that had been left out, the solid white one, and went to the other end of the table. “When breaking, all you’re attempting to do is create an opportunity to shoot. If you happen to get something in during a break, I applaud you. If not, it’s not the end of the world. This is typically an abandoned shot.”

 

He took one of the cubes from the nearby shelf and rubbed it over the narrow end of the cue stick. Korra caught her lower lip between her teeth as he approached the table and leaned over, carefully placing the cigarette back between his lips. She paid particular attention to how he held the stick, her eyes narrowed to mere slits and attentive as though she were learning a new concept in calculus. The sharp crack of the balls smacking together made her flinch. Colors scattered everywhere, bouncing off of the felt lined table edges and one another. She saw two balls go in, but as to which ones they were she had no idea. She was a little too preoccupied with the sight in front of her eyes, to say the least.

 

Tarrlok blew out the smoke as he came around to her side of the table and leaned his stick against the wall behind her. “The only balls you don’t want going into the pockets are the black eight ball and the cue ball. If the eight goes in before you get the rest of your balls off the table, you lose. If the cue ball goes in, your turn is scratched and the next player gets to position the ball wherever they want on the opposite side of the scratch.”

 

She nodded slowly and surveyed the table with growing trepidation as the older man behind her ceased the stream of smoke dissipating into the air by flattening the butt of his cigarette in an astray nearby. “This sounds a lot more complicated than I thought,” she said, her fingers curling tighter around her own stick.

 

“Once the rules are down, it’s not all that difficult.” He countered encouragingly. “Although, I know your strengths lie in the physical aspect of games, so I’m not quite sure if you’d take a particular liking to the game.” The corner of his mouth quirked higher.

 

The teasing tone in his voice sent a shiver all throughout her body. But somehow she knew what he said was meant to be taken as an insult. Turning to face him, she narrowed her eyes suspiciously. “Really? And why’s that?” She questioned, shifting just a little closer to him.

 

“Pool requires planning and forethought. It’s all about physics; the angle of the ball, the amount of force behind each shot, predicting where each ball will finish when you’re done making your move…” He drawled as she stopped directly at his front and glanced up a him, only further emphasizing their difference in height.

 

“Are saying I’m stupid and impulsive?” She challenged with a quirk of her brow.

 

“I would never conjure such a thought.” He murmured, his lips curving into a lazy smirk as he gazed down at her.

 

Before he could flinch, Korra roughly pokes at his chest with a prodding finger. “Alright, fine. If you’re so adept in playing pool, show this dumb girl how to play.” She said almost inaudibly.

 

She felt rather than heard Tarrlok chuckle once again. She didn’t know what was so funny, seeing that he coolly insulted her, but she went along with it anyway. The older man conceded as he pried her finger off of his chest and curled his hand onto the cue stick she gripped onto. Korra fought the urge to stiffen when a large hand grasped at her waist to turn and guide her towards the table. “For this round, you’re solids. So… which ball do you want to go for?”

 

She surveyed the table thoughtfully, trying her best to keep in mind what he’d said about the physics and force and that mumbo jumbo behind each hit. Finally, she pointed to a solid red ball and said, “That one.”

 

“And why that one?” He questioned.

 

Turning to face him, she folds her arms across her chest and smiles. “Because if I can hit it off the side there, it’ll land in the pocket. Hopefully.” She challenged.

 

He glances at the corner of his eyes. “You’re trying to prove me wrong,” he said, sounding as though he were impressed by her answer.

 

“Is it working?” She asked, smirking as she pressed closer to his side.

 

“Only slightly.” He whispers before giving her a gentle push toward the table. “Stand facing the ball you want to hit. Make sure the position is comfortable and stable.” He cleared his throat.

 

“How do I hold the stick?” She asked, glancing at him over her shoulder as she bent slightly at the waist. She hadn’t thought about it before agreeing to a night of pool, but if she wasn’t careful her skirt might ride up way too high. Wait a second…

 

To her shock, Tarrlok didn’t explain to her how to hold it - he showed her. Immediately, her body tensed up as he suddenly moved in close behind her, aligning his body to fit her perfectly. It was far more intimate of a demonstration than she’d been requesting, especially when his arms caged her on either side and she could feel his breath along her neck. Korra shivered, shifting restlessly against him… and inadvertently pushing her ass more snugly against his hips.

 

Once again, Korra’s cheeks burned bright red as she bit her lower lip between her teeth to stifle a shaky sigh threatening to escape.

 

To the spirits above, that devilish voice decided to emerge, instructing dirty little tidbits in between undignified cackling for her to ‘wiggle her hips’ or ‘nonchalantly give him an innocent grind’. She desperately hoped Tarrlok didn’t notice, but she wouldn’t put it past him, considering he had been playing along with their unspoken game. If he did, he didn’t make any mention of it as he took first one of her hands and then the other and placed them on the cue stick accordingly.

 

“It’s entirely up to you which hand to use,” he explained, speaking softly into her ear. It reminded her too strongly of the lovers she’d seen in the hallway whispering dirty little secrets to each other. They weren’t lovers - their real relationship far from that - and his words weren’t dirty in the least… but for some reason it still made her breath catch. Maybe it had to do with their intimate position. Or the light and deft teasing he hinted at. Korra couldn’t decide. “But seeing as you picked this stance, you’re right hand should go about here-” he squeezed the hand covering hers over the thicker end of the stick for emphasis, “and your left should be here.” Once again, his hand pressed firmly over hers.

 

Korra swallowed hard and nodded slightly, her heart pounding hard and fast in her chest. She was very aware of how he shifted just the slightest bit against her, his hands guiding hers in drawing back the cue stick while the other helped in balancing the tipped end. When his shoulder jerked forward, hers followed. There was the briefest of seconds where his bicep grazed the side of her breast, but that was quickly forgotten when the cue ball connected with the red one.

 

The chosen ball hit exactly where she’d expected it to, bouncing off the table and rolling neatly into the corner pocket. A triumphant grin broke across her face as both she and Tarrlok straightened. “It worked,” she laughed, rocking onto the balls of her feet excitedly.

 

“Of course it did,” he said, running a hand through his now slightly disheveled hair. “Considering you made your shot, you go again. You keep going until you miss.”

 

She nodded in understanding, her lower lip caught between her teeth thoughtfully as she searched the table for her next move. Korra walked around to the other side of the table, eying the purple ball that was directly next to the yellow striped. If she hit right between them, it would cause a split… but if she hit too hard the stripe would go right in the corner pocket. So, she would just have to control how much force she put behind the shot. Spirits, was it worth doing this just to prove a point to that stupidly sexy, arrogant man? Yes, it was.

 

Positioning herself as she had before, Korra maneuvered the cue awkwardly into place and sighted down the table. She could see Tarrlok out of the corner of her eye, standing back to patiently watch… and that was when a bit of wickedness struck her, just like it had at the restaurant.

 

While she wasn’t as experienced as most other women, Korra had to listen to Asami and Mako’s advice… as well as that nagging devilish one. Although it was a stretch for her, and just like this game of pool, she had to prove to them that she could do it. Korra knew that a big part of attraction rested on physical contact, which was not a problem with her, considering who she was supposed to touch. But the coy part of her so-called acting still needed vast improvement. Although she had to wonder, was it even acting anymore if she genuinely liked what she was doing? Even though her below-par acting skills was influencing Tarrlok, just as she thought earlier in the day, it still made her feel foolish. She had to mentally shake her head. She needed to get out of that mindset if she really wanted something drastic to happen between the two of them.

 

With that goal in mind, Korra smiled flirtatiously at him and asked, “Aren’t you going to help me with this shot, Mr. Tarrlok ?”

 

It must be her lucky day since she managed to surprise Tarrlok on more than one occasion. She very nearly giggled as his eyes widened the slightest bit and his lips quirked into that handsome yet irritating smirk of his at her bold request. Slowly, his piercing, half-lidded eyes were on her the entire time, he rounded the table until once again he was at her back, his body fit perfectly snug against her own.

 

Korra’s breath caught as his hands slid down her arms, covering her own on the cue stick. A pleasant shudder ran down her spine at vanilla and tobacco washing over her, at the feel of his breath along the back of her neck, his lips brushing the shell of her ear. She heard him take a deep breath and glanced over her shoulder at him. “Did you just sniff me?” She questioned, surprise cutting through the haziness his presence created. Not that she needed any more evidence, but spirits, he really was a creep.

 

A mischievous, completely unrepentant gleam lit his pale blue eyes. “Maybe,” he replied, edging closer to the skin of her neck. “Your skin smells lovely.”

 

Flushing heatedly, Korra felt another shudder ripple through her body as his lips grazed the side of her neck. “Gee, I wonder why.” She answered distractedly, losing herself to the warmth of his lips actually pressing light, teasing pecks to her overheated skin. Was this some sort of pay back for what she did during dinner? Korra didn’t know and honestly could care less. Her only focus was on Tarrlok indeed kissing her neck.

 

She chewed on her lower lip as he let out a pleasant snicker against her skin, the corresponding rumble felt at her back. “Hey now, it wasn’t my fault that you decided to bathe yourself in all my hygienic products.” He said, still speaking with his mouth against her neck.

 

“And it’s not my fault that you always smell like vanilla.” She shot back, the playful venom lost in the shaky breath she let out. Korra flushed once more, using the excuse of focusing on her shot to duck her head away.

 

“You sound like you’re complaining, but I know you haven’t had any qualms about it thus far.” He murmured self-assuredly as he pulled away just enough to gaze into her cerulean depths.

 

“And? So what if I like it?” She asked in a whisper, her knees threatening to give out at any moment with the way his dilated pupils regarded her expectantly. Spirits, what was wrong with her? If she didn’t know any better, she’d almost say she liked having him sniff and peck at her. Not only was that perverted, but it made her lose all forms of coherence. But she really couldn’t say anything on the matter, considering she blatantly teased him underneath a table. While hers took him completely by surprise, this rendition was a lot more smoother, more sensual than her forward advance.

 

As if he hadn’t been nuzzling her neck like a lover, Tarrlok adjusted her grip on the cue stick and slid right back into the ever-so-poised politician mode. It was stunning to her how easily he could switch like that when she was having a hard time remembering to breathe evenly. “Hold it like this. It’ll give you more control as you shoot,” he explained, all too aware that she was still fighting to slow down her racing pulse with the amused lilt in his voice. “Ready and…”

 

Just like before, his shoulder surged forward and took hers along with it, and once again, she felt the softest brush of his upper arm along her breast. She choked back a surprised gasp as the balls clacked together sharply, the shot once again going as planned. He straightened and stepped away from her with an approving nod.

 

Korra took a slow deep breath and tried to steady the hard pulsing of her heart. Even with the slightly cool air of the room circulating around her, she could still feel the lingering heat from his body. Coolly glancing over her shoulder, eyes shimmering with heat, she asked, “Have I proven you wrong yet?”

 

A tremor worked its way down her spine when she watched him come to her back again, his palm smoothing over her exposed lower back, following the harsh curve of her hip. “Not quite. I think you need one more demonstration. Just to make sure you understand it, of course.” Tarrlok suggested with an edge of teasing coloring his voice. It was obvious by his tone that concern for her shooting technique was the last thing on his mind.

 

Korra gave a quick, barely noticeable nod as Tarrlok’s hand on her hip tugged her more securely against him. Immediately, that warm thrumming feeling returned to her lower abdomen again, making her slightly lightheaded. As casually as she could, she placed her hands on the pool table ledge and took a deep, slow breath to encourage more oxygen into her system.

 

“How about we try something a little trickier,” Tarrlok murmured, the barest bit of a self-satisfied laugh creeping into his low tone.

 

Shrugging and trying to play it cool despite the way his breath on her neck sent little bumps to march down her arms, Korra asked, “What do you have in mind?”

 

Without relinquishing his hold on her waist, the older man guided her around to the narrow end of the table and pointed down to the shot he wanted her to make. “We’re going to hit the fifteen on the left side. That should make the fifteen connect with the six-”

 

“-And that’ll put the six into the side pocket,” she finished, tilting her head back to smile up at him.

 

She saw the lift of his cheek shortly before his eyes narrowed in fascination. The hand on her stomach tightened briefly, his thumb rubbing small circles alongside the belt around her waist. It took a tantamount of effort to remember why breathing was so important. “Precisely,” he replied, taking a step back so that she could get into position. “This shot is going to be a little difficult… but you should be able to do it.”

 

Yeah, a little difficult was right. Korra glared at him over her shoulder as she bent forward across the table. “You’re just trying to sneak a peek at my panties, old pervert.”

 

Folding his arms across his broad chest, Tarrlok let out a chuckle. “Do you honestly believe that I’d be so shallow as to get you to bend over a pool table just to see under your skirt?”

 

“Considering the events as of late, yes.”

 

“Hmm.” He let out a thoughtful hum, and even though she was watching him over her shoulder, the way his eyes flicked over her body appreciatively made her brows rise at his lack of shame. “If your skirt were perhaps half an inch shorter, then your accusation would be well founded. But from the position I’m standing in, as well as that half inch of fabric, there’s no way I can see your undergarments. Not without x-ray vision, that is.”

 

“Who says you don’t already have that? You’re a wizard, remember?” She muttered while setting up for the shot.

 

Arching a brow in challenge, Tarrlok murmured, “Maybe I do, considering I’ve already seen you stripped down to a mere towel.”

 

“Not without my help, of course.” Korra uttered almost inaudibly to his ears, a triumphant smile curving her plump lips.

 

“Pardon?” He questioned in evident bewilderment, as though he wanted an explanation.

 

“Huh?” She asked in feigned innocence.

 

“What did you just say?” He pressed further. His interest was clearly piqued.

 

Forgetting all about the game, Korra spun around to face him, leaning back against the table with her arms bracing her. Tarrlok unfolded his arms, his hands returning to her hips as he took a step closer, forcing her to tilt her head back in order to maintain eye contact. “I said,” Korra explained, trying to appear confident and unfazed while attempting to ignore the way her heart leapt wildly in her chest. “Not without my help, of course. Did you really think that my shower malfunctioned on it’s own? That somehow some of the exposed pipes were tweaked?”

 

“So it was intentional. I had my suspicions, it seemed a little too well thought-out.” He admitted. His calloused hands smoothed around her waist, his fingers pressing firmly into her flesh before stopping at the base of her spine. “Do you still think I’m attempting to catch a peek at your panties?”

 

“Mhm,” she hummed in agreement. Korra squirmed a little at having his hands so close to her ass, and with how close they were to one another, she awkwardly settled both of her hands on his chest. “But even if you did, you wouldn’t know if they matched or not.” She whispered.

 

There was a quick flare of emotion through his eyes, one she recognized considering she was feeling the same exact way. It was dark and intense and it made her feel a spark of heat all over her skin. Spirits, this should feel wrong. Blatantly flirting with her father figure in public , where someone could easily recognize him. But that barely made an impact on Korra as she was lost in that sea of raging lust.

 

But if it was so wrong, then why did it constantly send pleasant thrills through her?

 

She was still trying to puzzle out these conflicting emotions when Tarrlok released her hips in favor of settling his hands on the table’s edge, effectively pinning her in place with his arms. The movement made her palm slide up his chest, causing her breath to catch at the feel of solid muscle shifting beneath her fingers, the same solid muscles she caught sight of earlier that morning. For fuck’s sake, she could melt into a pile of mush at that moment. With glazed eyes, Korra tried to coolly circle those same trembling hands around his neck.

 

“Considering I bought most of your undergarments, sweetheart ,” he said, speaking in a low, rich tone that made her fingers curl into his loose strands at the base of his neck. “I’d venture to say they do. But seeing as you’re only wearing a piece of fabric around your chest, I also assume that you’re wearing nothing but that.”

 

The way he stressed the last part made her nearly let out a pleasured sigh, her legs restlessly spreading further apart as he moved even closer to her. Even with her hazy mind, she didn’t want to give him the pleasure of validating his claim, which in actuality was true, but he didn’t need to know that. She managed to lift her gaze from his lips to his eyes, catching that pale fire watching her own lips in fascination. Korra knew where this was heading, and she did not mind in the least.

 

Without thinking, almost as if it were a reflexive action, she tilted her head slightly in anticipation for this long awaited kiss as he began closing the short distance between them.

 

“Seven hells, why the whole city decided to go here tonight is beyond me.”

 

Korra jumped at the sound of Noatak’s voice and quickly pulled her hands away from Tarrlok’s neck as if she were burned. He in turn groaned under his breath and shot a rather surly glare at his older brother.

 

Noatak, seemingly unaware that he’d interrupted them again, although she wouldn’t put it past the usually attentive man, set a large glass full of dark amber liquid down on the table before doing the same to Tarrlok’s almost identical drink, but in a much smaller glass. He shook his head in disbelief, presumably due to the roaring crowd occupying the first floor beneath them, before his gaze fell on the table. A grotesque grin made its way to his lips as he motioned to the scattered balls. “Sneaking a round in on me, huh?”

 

“Actually, Tarrlok was showing me how to play pool,” Korra replied after clearing her throat. She nervously tucked a piece of hair behind her ear as she motioned with her head for Tarrlok to step away. He did so, although she was pleased to note it was with an obvious bit of reluctance.

 

“You’re a newbie. Why does that not surprise me?” The older brother teasingly rasped.

 

Tilting her head to the side and folding her arms beneath her breasts, Korra narrowed her eyes in challenge. What is it with these two men that think so little of her? If this was how it was going to be, it is in Korra’s nature to prove people wrong. Even if she held some level of doubt and reluctance as well. “So I have to prove two decrepit men wrong, now? That sounds fun.”

 

“Brother, your daughter really does have a sharp tongue. Although, it is wasted energy when you’re up against Tarrlok.” Noatak commented, his pale blue eyes glittering playfully. It was a strange sight to see, considering the man’s jesting behavior was directed towards her rather than Tarrlok like it usually was.

 

Tapping a finger to her chin, Korra hummed in thought before turning to Tarrlok beside her. “Since you’re apparently so amazing at pool, let’s raise the bet. Each round played, the loser places twenty yuans, which Noatak will hold since he’ll be keeping score. Whoever gets to score five first, they win. If I win, I get the money and you have to do my government homework for a week.”

 

With an overconfident smirk, Tarrlok scoffed. “Is that all?”

 

“Fine, all of my homework. Including calculus.” She added with an arch of her brow.

 

“Presumptuous, I like it. And if I win?” He questioned.

 

“What do you want?” She uttered with a shrug. Even though it was intended as an innocent question, the look on his face, the clench of his jaw, and the way his eyes quickly roved her body once more had goosebumps prickling her skin at the shameless display of desire. When he didn’t say a word, Korra cleared her throat and suggested, “How about I cook dinner for the next week.”

 

“Deal.” Although it was clearly not what he truly wanted, Tarrlok agreed with his half-lidded gaze.

 

As if they had forgotten about Noatak’s presence, the older brother spoke up before taking a healthy gulp of his beer, “This should be fun. Just keep in mind that I love tonkatsu.”

 

—-

 

“Well done, brother!”

 

Korra suppressed an irritable sigh as Noatak continued to celebrate what was shaping up to be Team Testosterone’s fourth win. She knew it was only a game, and if he didn’t win this round, then she’d consider herself leading this farce, but she did share the same traits as her real father. That being an extreme dislike for losing and great amount of competitiveness. It certainly didn’t help sooth her irritation that Tarrlok and his brother felt the need to celebrate every shot he got in. Besides, it was a bit premature to start celebrating another victory when they still had three balls left on the table.

 

Pursing her lips and shifting her weight from one foot to the other, Korra observed the clear shot that she had no doubt Tarrlok would successfully pocket with an audible and exaggerated sigh.

 

“Aww, don’t worry, cupcake. You did your best, no need to take it to heart. It’s just a game.” Noatak chuckled, slightly stumbling towards her seething form with a healthy flush coloring his cheeks as he gulped down the last of his fifth beer. She winced when his arm harshly draped over her shoulders, which resulted in Korra giving his side a good, hard pinch that made him flinch away, flabbergasted.

 

“Of course, sweetheart. It’s just a game.” Tarrlok piped up as he swallowed a portion of his whiskey. Well, that’s just the cherry on a cupcake, isn’t it? Korra couldn’t contain her narrowed gaze towards the cocky man. “But I must admit, I’m rather impressed. For someone who just learned how to play pool, you’re doing far better than I expected.”

 

She made no move besides a tilt of her head.

 

“However, that does make it four times now that he has won.” Noatak said as though she needed another reminder.

 

Her pointed glare at Tarrlok shifted towards his brother beside her. “So? Just because he’s been leading for this round doesn’t mean he’ll win the game. We’ve been tied throughout the whole thing. Dear uncle, I think your memory is waning seeing that the game isn’t over yet. There’s still a chance he’ll miss.” She said self-assuredly, even though her true feelings were anything but confident.

 

Noatak arched a brow and surveyed the pool table just as Tarrlok sent another ball into one of the side pockets. “I hate to tell you this, cupcake, but the count is two solids to four stripes, excluding the eight ball. Tarrlok’s got the last few shots lined perfectly. So if I were you, I’d try thinking of some meals to prepare before your inevitable defeat.”

 

Fortunately for him, it seemed that Korra held some form of mercy for the drunken bastard. What would Asami do? Cerulean eyes scanned the area and caught sight of her target. Nodding once with a forced smile plastered on her face, Korra said with mocking innocence, “Shit! Our table is a mess! It looks like someone spilt booze all over it. Better clean that up before it ruins the finish.”

 

Noatak watched her stroll casually over to the table, curious as to what exactly she was up to. Keeping her back to the pool table, Korra bent over to begin cleaning up the mess she’d had the spontaneous urge to take care of.

 

No more than ten seconds later, a solid white ball went flying over the edge of the table and rolled under the cushioned bench against the wall.

 


 

Tarrlok eyed the table thoughtfully while Noatak continued to bait Korra nearby. He could hear what they were saying, but his focus was on winning his prize rather than their squabbling. Only three balls were left, all of which were set up just precisely enough to secure him another win. Although they were tied, he felt an intangible pull of surprise whenever she landed a score.

 

Finding his next shot, Tarrlok went to the far end of the table and sighted down the felt. An outside strike to the four ball would put it neatly into the pocket. It was undoubtedly an easy shot to make. He noted Korra moving for the bench out of the corner of his eyes, but didn’t pay her any mind as he bent over with his stick leveled at the cue ball. He drew back, eyes narrowed speculatively, and—

 

He was seeing dots. Black and white polka dots.

 

His normally astute brain only took him a fraction of a second longer to realize that the reason why he was seeing polka dots were due to the fact that he had a clear view up Korra’s skirt and caught an eyeful of her undergarments. And to his prediction, it was a pair that he bought her.

 

Tarrlok very nearly smacked his nose first into the pool table with shock and the movement threw his aim off completely. He managed to connect with the cue ball, but with far too much force. The ball hit into the edge of the table and went over, bouncing on the floor a couple of times before disappearing underneath the bench.

 

“Brother, really?!” Noatak shouted, which fortunately for them, only a group of women giggling over a story and a tiresome bartender occupied the room with them. Tarrlok very subtly checked to see if his nose was bleeding. Not that he expected much blood to still be in his head anyway. Most of it migrated south at the sight of black and white printed on cheeky cotton.

 

Korra disappeared completely from view for a moment, and it wasn’t until she reemerged with the white ball in hand that he realized she had gone onto her hands and knees to dig it out. Spirits… Tarrlok pressed the heels of his palms against both eyes until spots flickered behind his eyelids as some truly wrong, and rather fresh imagery tried to fix itself into his brain. Things about her on her knees and balls and…

 

He pulled his hands away when he heard someone clear their throat and immediately groaned again when a smugly smiling Korra innocently placed the cue ball on the table. “Something wrong?” She purred, her eyes glimmering wickedly in the dim light.

 

It was then that he pleasantly realized this young woman had purposely given him a glance at her undergarments just to make him miss the shot. He knew he shouldn’t be surprised, considering her ploy at the restaurant and her natural competitiveness hidden behind that pretty face, but the day was filled with incredulity that having her do such a thing kept influencing him for the worst. All he could do was gape at her while she continued to silently laugh at him.

 

To further provoke him, Korra’s grin widened as she stood up on her tiptoes and pressed a quick, mocking kiss to his cheek. “It’s okay, Tarrlok. Maybe you’ll get lucky and I’ll miss.”

 

In a way, what they had been doing for the better part of the last two weeks or so was something akin to an erotic game of mercy; set the bar high and see if the other either beats the mark or silently begs for mercy. He thought he broke her down with an impromptu learning experience of pool. But she had, once again, raised the bar and he couldn’t quite get over the fact that a mere seventeen-year-old kept putting him back into his place as though he were a virginal boy. He had to at least do something equal to a panty flash. Although, he had the feeling that if he tried anything his useless mind was suggesting, he was going to find himself eating drywall.

 

Tarrlok blinked slowly, his gaze inadvertently following that cerulean eyed tease as she sauntered back over to the bench and sat down, crossing her ankles as primly as if she hadn’t just given him an eyeful of her panties. The smugness never left her face as she purposely smoothed her hands down her skirt. Tarrlok arched a brow at her antics. She thought she had won, did she? Well, he didn’t climb the political ladder without learning the difference between winning the battle and winning the war.

 

—-

 

Since her flash of soft cotton, the rest of the night was filled with smug yet innocent smirks, eyes appearing calm on the outside yet he knew she was silently laughing at him with the unmistakable hint of mischief woven in her irises. As his brain kept circling around the sinful images she produced throughout the day, his focus wavered, resulting in Korra’s inevitable victory. And of course, she held no mercy for their loss. She rubbed the stash of yuans in his face and cackled rather indecently all while wiggling her body in some sort of victory dance.

 

While she was continued to gloat and Noatak mumbled incoherent words to himself, surely complaining about Tarrlok’s loss, he decided to call it a night. He hadn’t realized the downpour that passed while they were consumed with their game of pool, but now that they emerged from the heated establishment, the brisk air around them felt too nice on his warm skin.

 

With Korra trailing behind, happily kicking the stray puddles on the sidewalk, Tarrlok and Noatak wandered further ahead of her in the direction of the car. Tarrlok sighed under his breath and jammed his hands into his coat pockets as his brother swung an arm around his shoulders. He could tell Noatak was still unable to move forward from his missed shot. He himself couldn’t move past it either, but he was coming to terms with raising his expectations from the young woman behind them and preparing himself for his inexorable demise.

 

After a moment of silence where neither of them did anything but walk down the paved path, Noatak raked his fingers through his hair and said, “So… you missed.”

 

Tarrlok nodded, arching a brow higher as he felt what was inevitably coming. “Mhm,”

 

“I don’t think I need to ask if it was a good view. You fucking missed.”

 

“That’s been established already, brother.” Tarrlok murmured with a side glance.

 

Laughing softly, Noatak shook his head and pulled his brother closer, too disoriented to notice the wince crossing Tarrlok’s features. “You’ve gotta raise a glass to the girl who flashes a guy just to win a game of pool. She truly puts a new definition to ‘dirty pool’, am I right?”

 

There was absolutely no arguing that, but Tarrlok didn’t want to dig himself a bigger hole than he already had with just this day alone. Even though he knew she was competitive in nature, but seeing her undergarments, especially being teased in a public setting and practically seeing her naked, was not something he had been expecting from Korra since their unspoken and literal game began. His mind is still processing the fact that this all happened in one day, that her intangible strikes were increasing in frequency, that he barely caught her almost panicked words.

 

“Guys, I forgot my jacket, I’ll meet you in the car.” She rose her voice, already beginning to turn back towards the bar.

 

“I’ll go with her. Start warming the car.” He said, nudging Noatak’s arm off his shoulders and tossing his keys into his brother’s hands.

 

Easily catching up to her in long strides, Tarrlok shrugged his coat off and draped it over her shoulders. “You don’t need to-“ She began.

 

“Of course, I do. You think I’d allow an attractive young woman to walk about in a crowded bar scantily clad?” He interrupted, dismissing her worries off with a wave of his hand.

 

Giggling, Korra grasped his coat tighter around her body in what he assumed was relish at the warmth that it brought. “That’s not what I meant, but it’s good to know you care for this so-called attractive young woman.” She purred, turning her face at an angle just so he couldn’t see her as rain began to sprinkle and settle on her hair adoringly.

 

The contrast with this seventeen-year-old was undoubtedly baffling. From nearly giving him a heart attack at any given moment to this blushing bride, Tarrlok couldn’t decide what to make of her.

 

“Well, you’d be surprised at how persistent some perverts can be.” He said with a shrug.

 

Nodding, Korra replied, “Mn, I think I have an idea.” She giggled.

 

With pinched brows in evident offense, he shot her a disgruntled look. “I’m not-”

 

“I wasn’t talking about you!” She let out a bark of laughter, shoving him away from her in jest, even though she held a little too much force into the push. If it wasn’t meant for him, who was she talking about? Either way, the look on her face as she caught her bearings at a sudden realization made his eyes narrow. “...Well, actually…” She drawled, but was cut short by the playful pinch he gave her covered arm in modest revenge.

 


 

The car felt too nice as she found a comfortable position to lay her head. It was too delightful, as if she could fall asleep to the sound of Tarrlok and Noatak’s brotherly musings, to the sound of rain pattering against the glass, and to the neon lights quickly passing her eyes in a dreamlike state.

 

Just as she was drifting off, feeling the familiar numbing sensation of sleep soon to consume her, a vibration caught her attention. Blindly reaching for her phone on the seat beside her, Korra squinted at the bright screen.

 

A notification popped up from her new volleyball team, something she glazed over, and immediately honed in on Asami’s texts. When do you want to start Mr. Tenzin’s project? She said, and a few hours later, Goodluck with your date with Mr. Nobody. Korra couldn’t hold in the soft giggle at the winky face, not only because it was true, but because Asami caught on  with her spur-of-the-moment absence.

 

Closing her eyes once again, Korra assumed her comfortable position and willed herself to fall asleep. Only for a few minutes at least.

 

Chapter Text

 

She couldn’t sleep. It was a normal occurrence for Korra, for insomnia to let her reflect rather dreadfully what her life has become. But what bewildered her was the fact that she had been bone-tired since the ride back home. Usually being this exhausted would’ve left no room for guilt to creep into her bones. But when Tarrlok had woken her up, leisurely threading his fingers through her hair - as he always did - she couldn’t for the life of her feel any semblance of fatigue once she entered the estate.

 

Now, as she was lying in bed, the sound of the heavy rain returning, she couldn’t bring herself to fall asleep even if she wanted to. Although the downpour numbed her mind, thoughts kept fleeting by with what happened in the past twenty-four hours. It’s not something she thought she’d ever do in her lifetime - or at least with him specifically - but she didn’t know how to feel. There was the undeniable pride and mischief that she couldn’t shake off, but there was also something unknown prodding at the back of her mind… something akin to shame was it? Whatever it was, the thought was put on hold when she heard the unmistakable grumble of her stomach.

 

Before flicking off the sheets, Korra caught sight of the time. Three in the morning. Spirits, she’d been lying there for a few hours already and nothing had changed. Figuring she should nibble on something, she hastily threw on her shirt and padded her way down the cool steps, towards the eerily quiet kitchen, her eyes flicking to where Naga was curled up on the couch. It was times like these that she relished the silence. Just gazing at the pup warmed her heart, but the thoughts keep coming back.

 

The two were presumably fast asleep, which was odd considering a certain man’s penchant for staying up into the wee hours of the morning to tend to his work. Though Korra couldn’t blame the man - he did say he’d been tired.

 

She began to poke through the refrigerator, then the cupboards, and to her dismay, had yet to find something to satisfy her hunger. Tapping her finger against the counter in thought, Korra decided she might as well be productive if she wasn’t going to get much sleep tonight. She knew she should wait at least for a few more days, it’d make more sense, but Korra goes with it anyways.

 

With her mind set, she began to rifle and prod her way back through the cupboards for baking supplies. It was when she finally had the ingredients in front of her that she felt a cold, wet nose lightly sniff at her leg. Flinching, Korra glanced down at the source.

 

It was Naga. A puffy eyed Naga who clearly just woke up.

 

Bending down to stroke the pup’s soft fur, she cooed in apology. “Did I wake you up? Sorry, girl.” Korra pouted, looking into Naga’s dark eyes. Although she had the pup for only a few weeks now, she sure did grow. She still had the unmistakable energy of a pup, but with the few weeks of growth, her strength and spirit would nearly knock the living tar out of her. “I just really can’t go to sleep.” She added before stretching back onto her feet and preheating the oven.

 

As Naga sat patiently watching, Korra chewed on her lip in thought, listing the ingredients in her mind and making sure she had everything out for her brownies. Well, not her brownies, but her mother’s. It was always around the end of the year she’d made them, specifically that of salted caramel brownies. The moments her mother would bake them held a special place in her heart, recalling the last time she actually did.

 

She remembered the cold days where snow would fall, calmly coating her town in a white blanket. Despite the cold, those times were always filled with warmth. Her mother would bake the brownies just for her, Korra would help - although it was mainly to wait for the spatula of raw dough - and her father would gaze at her mother filled with love in his eyes. Never in her life had she seen someone look at their lover like that. She wanted a love like their own, and still does. It was precisely then did she want to make the brownies out of love for her parents and to whomever she shared her life with.

Korra took it upon herself to add something extra special to them. That being crushed nuts added on top of the cooled caramel. Korra usually recreated this the day before her parents’ anniversary, typically making enough for the kids and the caretakers in the orphanage, although it was more for her parents’ remembrance than her pleasure, but this year it was different. This year she couldn’t stand the numbing silence and the sound of the downpour.

 

It was odd. She always thought that the silence would help her think, would help her fall asleep, but if anything, it only further exacerbates her insomnia. Spirits, she needed to focus. Preparing the pan, she glances down at Naga watching her soundlessly.

 

Taking a deep breath in, Korra grabs a hold of the butter and chocolate before melting them together and setting them aside. “If you were human, I bet you’d ask why I’d be wide awake making brownies when I was dead tired in the car, huh?” She wondered as she began to pour the familiar ingredients into a bowl. “Well, that stupid voice is keeping me from falling asleep. She keeps talking about you-know-who and I can’t just lay there and allow that to happen… And it doesn’t help that their anniversary is coming up, too.” She said, cracking four eggs and folding the mixture until it was a pasty texture with a rubber spatula.

 

They lapse into a comfortable silence, but Korra couldn’t help herself to fill it. “Wanna listen to music or should I put a movie on?” She asked the pup, whose ears perked at the suggestion. As if she didn’t wake up just a few minutes ago, Korra watched Naga happily trot to the cabinet filled with films. “Movie it is.” She giggled, wiping her hands on a discarded towel before making her way to filter through the films.

 

She honestly didn’t pay much attention to Tarrlok’s movies, but as she scanned them with curious eyes, it was evident that the man relished the romance and the drama. Randomly choosing a movie, she grabbed onto one that had a pink hotel displayed on the cover. Was it a mystery, or romance, or what? Shrugging, she took the disc out.

 

“You know, you’re lucky to be a dog. You get to laze around all day and you don’t have to deal with all this frustration and confusion.” Korra spoke up as the film began to play, but was cut short when she heard the beeping of the oven persisted, signaling it was ready to bake whatever it was she was preparing.

 

Padding her way to the counter once more, Naga hot on her heels, Korra sighed. “I bet you don’t want to hear what’s going on, or at least don’t care to hear it, but I do tell you all of this, either way.” She shrugged, deftly pouring the mixture into the pan.

 

“To put it as simply as possible, I don’t know what I’m doing or why I’m doing this. Sure, it’s fun to push his buttons and whatnot, and I know that it’s more than an infatuation at this point, but besides wanting his attention, I don’t know why I’m doing all of this. I don’t know why I feel the need to have a reason or to justify what I’m doing, but I do.” She wondered aloud, more to herself than to the pup beside her.

 

Was it because he was the only man that gave her attention other than the father figure that their true relationship called for? Was it the taboo aspect of what their doing? Is it because he’s older, that somehow she relishes the idea of his guidance and protection and the darker thought that nags at her brain as dominance? Korra hates thinking about it, mainly due to the fact that it gives her a headache and further exacerbates her frustration and confusion with the man.

 

Evening out the raw brownie mixture, Korra took a deep breath in. “You must think I’m an idiot to go for someone like him. I don’t blame you.” She conceded with another shrug. “I mean, he’s legally my dad, a full twenty years older than me… he’s arrogant and irritating yet he’s sweet and oddly funny… And I know this is shallow, but it’d be one thing if he were ugly. But he’s really not…” Korra said as she placed the pan into the heated oven.

 

And of course his stupidly perfect face pops into her mind. That stupid smirk he always wore, that stupid half lidded gaze he did, the stupid way he looked so seductive with his stupid cigarettes between his lips. Ugh!

 

Slightly irked, Korra punched the numbers for the timer before groaning. “And spirits, what confuses me the most is that he’s actually reciprocating in whatever this is. Like those kisses when we were playing pool… Well, not really playing at that time, but you know what I mean.” She dismissed with a wave of her hand. “What’s worse is that all of this is happening now. When their anniversary is coming up, and I’m barely giving them much thought. Sure I’m thinking of them, but it’s nothing compared to last year.”

 

Shaking her head, she bit her lip to stop herself from saying anything more. “I should stop, I don’t want to cry right now. I mean, you’ve already seen more than enough of me doing that for a lifetime.” She said with a humorless laugh. Korra took the rubber spatula, licking the remaining dough when she felt Naga lap at her leg in a silent plea. Giggling, she filtered through the cupboards once more, grasping onto the jar of peanut butter. “I know you can’t have chocolate, but peanut butter is a close second.”

 

Making her way to the couch Naga occupied before she inadvertently woke the pup up, Korra smiled as the ball of fluff followed her every move. She figured it was because she had food, but it was adorable nonetheless.

 

Naga hopped onto the cushions next to her, curling into a ball before Korra offered her a dollop of the smooth paste. They spent the next thirty minutes cuddled on the couch, watching the film even though Naga practically fell back into a deep slumber, judging by the small twitches Korra felt against her front.

 

Lips curving into a content smile, she faintly stroked Naga’s soft fur. She still couldn’t believe Tarrlok got her a puppy. At that point, they barely knew each other, they still don’t, but yet he was caring enough to offer her some consolation. Don’t get her wrong, she loved what he was doing, but even now some things overwhelmed her. She couldn’t deny that he felt some form of affection towards her. But what kind of affection, Korra did not know.

 

She pressed a soft kiss to the top of Naga’s head, whispering, “You really don’t know how much I love you.”

 

Unfortunately for Naga, her slumber was cut short once again, which had Korra wincing when the timer on the oven went off. She pressed at the buttons and placed the rubber spatula in the sink before taking the brownies out to allow them to cool. Yawning, Naga sleepily followed, curling onto the cool tiles to keep Korra company. She felt bad for waking her drowsy companion, but she had to sheepishly think that at least she was almost done.

 

Once cooled, she poured a melted concoction of caramel with a pinch of salt and crushed nuts to top the pastry. Korra sighed in thought as she leaned on the stove, enjoying the warmth from the oven radiating through her baggy shirt. Although the rain lightened compared to when she first stumbled into the kitchen, wind came into the mixture, cooling the air around her.

 

Korra drummed her short nails on the counter slowly before dividing the brownies into small squares. With the way her mouth watered at the scent, she couldn’t deny herself to indulge in her creation. She popped a square into her mouth, nearly groaning at the sweetness gracing her taste buds. But then an idea came to mind. She already knew the man was a workaholic, and she guessed that he would be so consumed in his work that he’d lose track of time. That’s what he did on a regular basis at home, in any case.

 

With that in mind, she fretted for any sign of tupperware, and placed as many brownie squares she could fit into the small box.

 

Biting into another brownie, she caught sight of a pad of notes. “I shouldn’t leave him a note. He’ll know who it’s from, anyways.” She mumbled over her mouthful of sweetness with a shrug. But as she glanced at Naga, something in her eyes told Korra to do it anyways. “You know what, fuck it. Right, Naga?” She said before writing on the piece of paper and taping it to the lid of the container.

 

Closing the tupperware, she strode over to his satchel and hid it underneath his files. She hoped he’ll find it before the it spoils. Sighing, she hastily moved about the kitchen and cleaned the mess up, and as she wiped her hands free of soap and water, Korra placed her hands on her hips, glancing at the tired pup on the floor. “I’m not tired, but I know you are. We really should try to go to bed. A few hours of sleep is better than none. C’mon, girl.”

 


 

“So… you didn’t answer my text last night.” Asami asked with a knowing smirk lining her lips and slightly swaying her upper body to the music, though her eyes were locked on the road ahead of her.

 

Although she loved Korra, she couldn’t shake the tiniest bit of disappointment that she couldn’t stay with Iroh. It would have been such an amazing day with him, to wake up next to him, to spend the whole day with him since he’d be gone for the next week or so. But when she heard the familiar melody from her phone, she hastily scrambled out of his apartment with a quick kiss goodbye.

 

She had picked Korra up rather abruptly for her practice with the volleyball team. Why she couldn’t take the train, or even get a ride from her father or uncle, was beyond Asami, but she had a feeling it was to tease her with details regarding her night from the day before. And of course she was restless to know. What friend wouldn’t, considering she practically offered her wisdom on a silver platter.

 

“I’m aware.” Korra said before taking a healthy bite from her bagel.

 

Puffing red painted lips outward, Asami tapped her long nails against the steering wheel as a way to keep her patience from waning. When she was met with nothing but the music playing from her radio and the occasional crunch from the toasted bread Korra was eating at, Asami groaned. She hated to beg, but there was no other choice when she knew Korra, despite being very obvious, could keep her own secret if she really wanted to. “Korraaaaa!” She whined.

 

Laughing, her blue eyed friend swallowed the morsels in her mouth. “You tell me about your date first, then I’ll get to mine… even though it wasn’t a date.” Korra suggested, happily taking another bite of her bagel.

 

With a growl, Asami slowed her speed to turn a left before huffing, “Fine,” she broke her gaze on the road for a mere second to send a lacking glare at her friend. “We went to an art museum, then ate at Narook’s, then I spent the night at his apartment until you woke me up this morning.” She continued with a slight shrug, but judging from the pause in Korra’s chewing and the slow, deliberate smile etched on her pretty face from the corner of her eyes, Asami could tell her mind was in the gutter.

 

Dear spirits, and Asami thought she was in desperate need of some sex, but of course she was proven wrong when compared to Korra. Whoever Mr. Nobody was, they clearly affected her in the most amusing way in Asami’s perspective.

 

“Did you guys..?” She hinted through her mouth full of bread with a suggestive wiggle of her brows and a lewd hand gesture.

 

Asami let out a modest giggle, feeling her cheeks heat the slightest bit as she rolled the car to a stop at an intersection. “No, we just made out a bit, which mother of spirits, he’s really good at.” She sighed wistfully. Recalling her night, Asami couldn’t shake the feeling of warmth and comfort from her system as she remembered the way Iroh would bring her closer with the slightest tug of his arm around her, or the way he unconsciously ran his fingers through her hair while they watched that scary film, or the way his lips felt against her own. Ahh… so close yet so far. Once the light turned green, Asami broke herself out of her reverie. “Enough about my day, you have a lot of talking to do!”

 

“Ashami, erm ething.” She mumbled with her mouthful of food, waving her half eaten bagel in hand to prove her point.

 

Giggling, she said, “Well hurry up, I’ve been dying to know what happened.”

 

As if she could drag out this long awaited conversation any longer, Korra chewed deliberately slow as though she were savoring the refined taste of cream cheese and bread, swallowing as though she were so careful as to not choke before taking a gulp of the coffee she brought with her. Asami hastily tapped at her steering wheel once more, nearly clicking her tongue as she was nearing her limit with her friend. “Well…” Korra began with a flick of her wrist. “It was a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing after we ate dinner. But I took your amazing advice and boy did I get some new information!”

 

“What?” She prompted.

 

When she didn’t say anything for more than an exact ten seconds, Asami’s viridian eyes widened, glancing at her friend as if she were wounded, but found Korra chewing at her lip and an endearing flush creeping up her neck with a dopey smile lining her lips. “He has some thick package hidden away, if you know what I mean.” She insinuated.

 

Jaw dropping in shock, Asami let out a profane sound as if a bird had died. “Don’t tell me you openly groped him.”

 

With a bark of laughter, Korra nearly spitting out the last morsels of bread in her mouth onto her dashboard, she waved her hand to deny her assumption. “No, no, no. I mean, I did, but with a little rendition of footsie, if you will.” She smiled in pride.

 

“Korra!” She shouted her name, flabbergasted. She knew the other girl had a penchant for being very obvious when it came to romance, but spirits, she never in a million years think she’d do such a bold thing as that. Maybe in the safe confines of privacy, but definitely not in public. But with the new knowledge of how daring her friend can be, Asami had to wonder if someone darker lurked underneath her layers of raw emotion.

 

Shrugging, she sipped at her coffee. “What?” Korra asked in feigned innocence, but Asami knew the truth behind that grin that wouldn’t fade from her face.

 

With a chuckle and a flick of her turn signal as she slowed to another stop, Asami pushed at Korra’s shoulder in disbelief. “Go on! Please !”

 

Korra took another sip of her coffee before continuing. “So, he took me to this bar after and they surprisingly let me in, even though I’m underage. But I’m not complaining though, it was fu-” She stopped short when she caught sight of Asami’s sly expression. “Why’re you looking at me like that?” She asked warily.

 

Everything about this conversation was going in her favor. As a friend, she took it upon herself to find any new details from Korra’s love life, especially when she had been so tight-lipped about this guy. Had she met him before? Do they have class with him? All of that didn’t matter, now that she mentioned he was old enough to sneak her into a bar. Who knew she’d be into older fellows. Was he old and greying? Asami didn’t know, but that didn’t stop her from imagining a more likely than not incorrect version of Mr. Nobody.

 

“... So he’s old enough to get into a bar, huh?” Asami remarked wickedly, causing Korra’s eyes to widen and the flush already present on her cheeks to deepen in color. Spirits, she knew it’d be a matter of time before Korra unintentionally spilled some fresh information. How could she not? She’s practically head-over-heels for this guy and she clearly wanted to roll around the mud with him, judging by the smile that only someone who was more than smitten would experience.

 

Resolutely ignoring her sly quip, Korra pouted and continued her story as if she didn’t hear Asami. “Anyway, he took me to this bar and it was really packed-”

 

“Is that another euphemism for something?” She interrupted teasingly, letting out a bark of laughter as she snuck a glance at her friend who was indecently scrunching her face.

 

“What? No! Asami!” Korra rose her voice in slight panic as Asami’s insinuation slowly filtered through her brain. Although, that didn’t stop her blue eyed friend from shoving her in her seat, slightly turning the car along with the harsh movement.

 

“The bar’s really packed and…?” Asami drawled, unable to hide the giggle bubbling in her throat.

 

Huffing, Korra straightened her posture and leaned back into her seat as if she didn’t do anything wrong. “We went there to play some pool, which I don’t know if you know, but I’ve never played before.” She continued, picking at the few loose strands of string hanging from her shorts.

 

From her position, Asami could see she was fidgeting with her clothes, and evidently turned away to watch the passing buildings out the window, but the flushed color at the tips of her ears immediately had Asami understanding what was going on.

 

“Oooooh… so he was your teacher ?” Asami drawled mockingly with a grin akin to a feline as she leaned forward eagerly. “I see, I see.”

 

With another smile threatening to curve her lips, Korra took a sip of her coffee as a way to distract herself. “So, he’s teaching me how to play, which was mostly easy, but the whole time I was kind of trying to prove a point to him… Anyway, he showed me how to hold the stick and helped me shoot a few times from behind and to the spirits above I almost lost it.”

 

She frowned, leaning back in her seat as she gave her friend a puzzled look. “Why?” She questioned.

 

“He was practically nibbling at my neck!” Korra blurted. Asami was almost certain she’d never seen her friend blush this deep of a red before.

 

Too focused on what the other girl said, her brows furrowed in confusion. Just two days ago she claimed they never kissed before. Did that already happen in the span of one day of leaving her friend alone? “You didn’t tell me you guys kissed yet.” She pointed out.

 

Pawing at her flushed cheeks, Korra stubbornly kept her eyes focused on the passing buildings. “We haven’t! You have no idea how much willpower that took just to not jump his bones.” She huffed in frustration. She didn’t blame the girl. If Iroh were constantly teasing her and nibbling at her neck like Mr. Nobody did… well, there’s only so much a girl can take before she demanded that sweet, breathtaking release.

 

With a soft chuckle at her friend’s distress, Asami shook her head at the mere thought of the faceless Mr. Nobody. “Korra, Mr. Nobody better dick you down soon, because from my perspective, you’ll go stir crazy. Or at least a good make out session. I mean spirits, you’re practically a ticking time bomb.” She muttered, tucking a lock of obsidian hair behind her ear.

 

Pouting, Korra mumbled, “Shut up, I know…” She folded her arms over her chest as Asami switched lanes, anticipating the final turn into the school’s parking lot down the street. With a longing sigh, the other girl continued, “... But another good thing came out of our… whatever it was last night.”

 

Asami glanced at her friend, muttering, “Which is?”

 

And as if that blushing prude left Korra’s body, even though her blush still stained her cheeks, that wicked smile gradually curved her plump lips in what Asami assumed was the dirty tease she deliberately hid from the world. “I actually took Mako’s advice and ‘accidentally’ flashed him a bit of panty.” She said matter-of-factly with the use of air quotes to emphasize that it really wasn’t an accident.

 

Jaw dropping once more, Asami squealed as she shoved Korra in disbelief.

 

—-

 

Asami was in no way considered a junkie for sports, but she could tell when something was heated. In this case, Korra’s measly practice of serving the ball back and forth easily turned her cerulean eyed friend into a competitive mess when their coach decided to have the team play against one another. It wasn’t a total disaster from what she initially thought - even wincing from her spot on the bleachers with every harsh smack of the ball - mainly because her other teammates tried to keep up with her. Judging by her friend’s hasty movements, it wasn’t the actual game that was on her mind, moreso the fact that she needed to release some tension from her body.

 

She couldn’t blame the poor girl. She really did need some action, especially witnessing what happened at the dance, but it wasn’t Asami’s place to shove her into Mr. Nobody’s awaiting arms as if she were some fairy godmother. As much as she would love to contribute more to Korra’s romance, she already had her own budding relationship to deal with, what more to guide another.

 

It’d been a few hours since they arrived at the school’s auditorium and the viridian eyed girl watched in fascination at her friend’s prowess. Korra practically dominated the court, sweat dripping at her forehead and her messy bun falling to a limp ponytail that whipped around with every hit of the ball. With every point she made, she vocalized it with a triumphant curse, a fuck yeah! to be exact.

 

To say that she was impressed was an understatement. Asami felt the tiniest twinge of pride that she ushered her friend to join the team, but it really wasn’t her doing, considering Korra’s modesty when she first met her to the competitive and outgoing compadre she knew now.

 

Granted, it had only been a little more than a month since she met Korra. She knew she hadn’t seen Korra’s true colors at its peak as of yet, but she was knew there was a wild fire behind those blue depths threatening to unleash it’s rage. And judging by those violent smacks of a serve, or the harsh grunts of each hit, or the aggressive strike of a spike, Asami knew this was a hint of the true Korra playing out her frustration and tension that she unfortunately couldn’t release on her own or with her new beau.

 

When they took their break, Korra gulping down water as if she had been in a desert and just discovered an oasis, Asami rifled through the girl’s bag and handed her a fresh towel to pat at her wet skin. But just as soon as their break started, it ended.

 

She leaned back against the stand behind her, stretching her slim body as she watched Korra practically train a portion of the team after her coach pulled her aside to point at each of the members that needed a little push.

 

She couldn’t decide whether that was a good strategy on the coach’s part or not, but their practice rapidly returned to the same intensity as it had before their break, maybe even moreso. And although she could care less about sports, merely witnessing Korra play against her teammates had Asami chewing at her lower lip and clenching her fist in captivation.

 

Whether it was because she actually knew someone on the team or not, it was an intriguing experience nonetheless.

 


 

He was nearly finished with his work, skimming the documents for an occasional mistake he had missed. But to be frank, his mind relentlessly wandered into perilous territory. It was unlike him to become so distracted, and it was rather difficult to focus on pressing matters of the city - such as that of the gradually increasing crime rates - with a certain teenager occupying his thoughts.

 

This was absurd. A man his age shouldn’t be enthralled by a woman of hers. But despite all efforts to stop this ridiculous ploy, his hours supposedly governing Republic City would inevitably be wasted, or rather glossed over, with lingering thoughts of Korra.

 

He couldn’t get his mind to stop thinking about her.

 

That trick she pulled on him during dinner, or that flash of her undergarments, or even the deliberate shower in his own quarters was eating at his sanity. And to top it off, this all occurred within twenty-four hours. Spirits, if he had an inkling of how persistent this unspoken game of theirs would be, he would’ve been more keen to cease such ridiculous advances from the young woman when it first sprouted. But that evidently failed. And whether it was because he didn’t know how to stop their game or he didn’t want their game to stop, he couldn’t decide.

 

Crossing out an error with a deep sigh, Tarrlok scrawled the correction distractedly. His body ached with the constant tension she induced on him. And it wasn’t just in his waking moments, but when he was deep in his slumber as well.

 

At least when he was coherent he had some control, some rationality to guide their game in his favor, just as he had manipulated and persuaded his way into office. That is, until she pummeled his attempts with her bolder ones. But when he was sound asleep, he couldn’t stop himself from wandering, and sometimes it felt almost too real, especially with the dream he had of her the night before.

 

With all the surprises that happened, he wasn’t shocked that he immediately fell asleep. The fantasy began the moment his exhausted body hit the mattress, making it seem like instead of falling asleep, other events took place. She crawled her way over him, caging him in with those vivid blue eyes of hers darkening with lust, similar to the way he witnessed them glaze over when he pressed fleeting pecks at her neck as he taught her the basics of pool. Although her eyes said otherwise, she leaned in shyly. Soft, plump lips slightly parted as she pressed them to his, deepening the kiss almost immediately as her hands roved over his chest and ground her hips against his hardening arousal impatiently. In what seemed like urgent moments, the clothing between them peeled away, revealing her lithe body to him in what his mind could piece together from the events earlier that morning.

 

Pinching at the bridge of his nose in frustration, the false memory of her naked body was enough to make his heart beat faster and his blood rush south.

 

Tarrlok let out a relieved sigh, silently thanking the spirits that he found a mindless mistake on the account of the Council that was in need of a serious revision. Fortunately for him, the supporting documents he needed were gratefully the papers he brought home, but was too drained to work on. He had to clench his jaw at the blessed distraction. If he continued to think of her, he’d end up with the disgusted embarrassment he woke up to that morning.

 

Blindly reaching into his satchel, Tarrlok fumbled with the few files and the sizable, awkward lump at the bottom of the bag. Bewildered, he grasped onto the lump that he recognized as the tupperware he had at home.

 

Tarrlok sat straighter, reading the note taped onto the plastic lid.

 

I’m no doctor, but I think you should get a check up if you’re seeing spots. Given with your age, it may be detrimental to your health.

 

Korra

 

Tarrlok shook his head, peeling the note off the lid to tuck it into his coat pocket with a smirk. She could be undeniably clever when she wanted to be. Ignoring the file he placed on his desk, he peeled the lid off completely and selected a brownie out of the container. As if he needed another reminder of the young woman, he narrowed pale blue eyes and curiously sniffed at the overly sweet treat.

 

Rich milk chocolate, chewy caramel, and the inevitable crunch of crushed nuts. His mouth immediately began to water. Had he mentioned the mixture of nuts and chews were his favorite, or had Noatak gone and run his mouth a bit? It wouldn’t be terribly out of place, considering his brother would do anything to see him endure the torture Korra induced. He couldn’t recall anything of the sort… but he wasn’t complaining either way.

 

Pressing a single button, Tarrlok said, “Ling, please come into my office.”

 

“Right on it, sir!” The squeaky voice of his assistant responded quickly.

 

Tarrlok stared at the single chocolatey square between his fingers with greater focus than he had since he began rifling through the papers. When in seven hells did she make these? Why did she make these?

 

His brain scattered to justify her sneaking pastries into his bag, but then realized maybe that was why she fell asleep on the couch with Naga and the main menu of one of his films playing on repeat. After cleaning himself of the mess he unconsciously created earlier that morning, he had padded his way to the kitchen to prepare his morning dose of caffeine, and in the process saw Korra cuddled with a bleary eyed Naga. He was all too aware of the cold weather clouding the city, and with nothing but the thin, baggy clothes she typically sported at night, he draped a warm blanket over the two before pressing a light kiss to the tops of both of their heads.

 

Breaking himself out of his reverie, he caught the hasty sound of footsteps coming down the hall. Swinging the door open with a creak, his wide eyed assistant came to his side and asked, “Yes, Councilman?”

 

Tarrlok assumed a diplomatic smile and asked, “Want one?” He tilted the box solicitously toward the other man.

 

Clearly not expecting such gracious behavior from his boss, the other man reluctantly said, “Uhh, sure.” Ling began reaching for one, but paused with his hand hovering over his selection, his beady eyes narrowed suspiciously. “May I ask a question, sir?”

 

Tarrlok let out a sound in his throat. “That is a question.” He pointed out with a tilt of his head. When Ling’s cautious expression fell and nothing but silence ensued between them, he cleared his throat. “In any case, you’re my assistant not some slave, you can peak freely.” He continued.

 

“You’re only sharing these with me to see if they’re drugged… right, sir?” The other man questioned.

 

Tarrlok flashed him a happy, see-I’m-harmless smile and cocked his head to the side. “Ling, why would I do that to you?”

 

Evidently taking Tarrlok’s sugary tone with a grain of salt, Ling rolled his eyes exaggeratedly. He grabbed the brownie his hand hovered over and took a big bite of it. Instantly, the man’s eyes went impossibly round, practically gaping at the treat. “Councilman - sir, it’s..!”

 

Tarrlok’s eyes widened in alarm as he quickly dropped the box onto the table. Spirits… he’d only been joking about the brownie being drugged. Did Korra seriously lace these with unknown substances? Seven hells, he didn’t want to deal with another lifeless body at his feet. “Ling?” He asked, half rising from his chair in concern. “Can you talk?”

 

Nodding foolishly as he continued to gawk at the half eaten dessert, Ling mumbled, “That… is the best thing I’ve ever put it my mouth!”

 

Tarrlok blinked in surprise before dropping back into his seat with a relieved sigh. “Spirits. For a second, I really thought it was laced with something.” He chuckled, rubbing at his temples tiredly.

 

Ling snickered and clasped his hands at his front as he popped the remains of the questionable treat into his mouth. “Sir, do you actually care about me?” He goaded.

 

The smile etched on Tarrlok’s face immediately fell to something akin to feigned disgust. “... Get out of my office.” He ordered, using his free hand to select a brownie.

 

He must’ve been used to the orders from Tarrlok, but the other man let out a chuckle as he strode to the threshold. Just before Ling left him to his box of brownies and a nearly finished stack of papers, he made a sound as if he had just remembered something important. “One last thing, sir.” He spoke up. “Whoever sent those is someone truly special. Don’t mess it up with whoever it may be.”

 

Before Tarrlok could respond the other man already disappeared with the soft click of his door. With furrowed brows, he looked at the piece of baked chocolate with intrigue. Tarrlok squirmed uneasily at his assistant’s words and contemplated his yet untried treat. How it was possible to draw such wild conclusions over brownies was beyond him.

 

He sighed and shoved the thoughts aside for now, too tired to really care about her schemes for the present moment. Slowly, he took a bite from the brownie…

 

“Damn it.” He cursed to himself and decided that if he were to perish at that moment, he would leave without any regrets. In his thirty-seven years of walking the planet, no dessert could compare to what was sitting on his tongue.

 


 

Korra smiled and waved Asami goodbye as she slowly began moving from her parked spot on the driveway. It wasn’t until her viridian eyed friend turned a right and passed the gates that Korra retreated into the warm confines of the estate and closed the door with a soft click, recklessly kicking her sneakers next to the prissy, older man’s pointed shoes.

 

Almost immediately, the scent of something delicious in the making caught her attention. She dropped her bag with a thump on the cold marble and followed the scent. She knew who was waiting for her and what exactly he was doing, considering the crackling sounds of food frying.

 

Peeking around the threshold, Korra watched as he flipped pieces of breaded pork on the pan while she caught sight of Naga’s head popping up and down, curiously sniffing at the food on the counter. She waited there for a few seconds, reveling in Tarrlok’s baby voice for the pup. Though she’d heard it before, it was still something odd to hear, especially with the typically teasing or serious man. She snuck as quietly as she could behind him and wrapped her arms around his middle, glancing over the side of his arm at the frying meat. “Ah, you’re home.” He said with a cock of his brow. “I hope you’re fond of tonkatsu.”

 

“Noatak..?” She asked even though she knew the answer.

 

Making a sound of agreement, Tarrlok continued with a shake of his head, “He insisted. He apparently had been craving it since he mentioned it last ni-” He stopped in his tracks, his nose twitching before he visibly recoiled. Prying her arms around his middle, the older man glanced at her warily. “Do I want to know why you stink of sweat?”

 

Korra rolled her eyes. Spirits, it’d be one thing if she got sprayed by a skunk, but it was just sweat. He’s such a priss. “Well, I have been practicing with the team for hours, soooooo… ” She drawled which only further exaggerated Tarrlok’s cringing expression.

 

“So, that’s where you went. I was wondering where you were when I got home. How was that?” He questioned as he plopped two of the fried meat onto a plate.

 

Korra instantly reached out as she made an indifferent sound, intending to take a bite of the piece of pork when Tarrlok smacked her hand away with a knowing look in his eyes. “Party pooper,” she mumbled, rubbing the part of her hand he’d smacked soothingly as she huffed. “It was actually really fun. We started out by practicing serving techniques, but then our coach told us to play against one another. I thought it would’ve sucked ass because the school isn’t really known for volleyball, but they’re fast learners so it wasn’t that much of a challenge.” She shrugged and leaned against the counter beside him.

 

Nodding, he added another breaded piece of meat to the pan, the crackling oil intensifying. “That’s good to hear.”

 

They lapse into a comfortable silence as she watched him cook. Though he was merely flipping pieces of meat, Korra watched with evident interest at his deftness. The devious portion of her mind sparked an idea. And the more that she thought about it the more appealing it became. Scooting closer to his side with a hip bump, she smirked and suggested, “You know, you should come to the practices, it surprisingly gets pretty intense. And it’ll give you an excuse to relax a bit since your other children take most of your day.”

 

“Children?” Tarrlok asked.

 

She figured he was just playing along with her, but one glance into his eyes told her otherwise. “Those papers you love so dearly,” she responded. “If I didn’t know better, I would’ve thought they were your priority rather than me.” She challenged, unconsciously chewing at her lower lip.

 

Tarrlok visibly stiffened - though only slightly - at her words and her finger trailing up his arm. Sighing, he replied, “That’s not true. I can’t control how much work the Council gives me, and I doubt I’d have the time… But I’ll figure a way out to see you play.”

 

Smiling coyly, she meandered off to clean the countertop with Naga hot on her heels. “It’s good to know that you still support your daughter.” She said jokingly.

 

“Adopted daughter.” He corrected with a tilt of his head.

 

With his back to her, she ran some water over the used chopping board in the sink, eying his physique in mischief. Distractedly, she allowed the water to run over her hands before flicking the cold liquid at the man. It must’ve been deja vu, or something of that sort, if she felt as though she’d experienced this before. She couldn’t be sure though with those piercing irises slowly glancing at her as if she were in trouble. Once again, she chewed at her lower lip, her mouth curving into a smile as she waited for his next move.

 

Korra began to trek her way backwards when he turned the flame on the stove to a mere spark. He followed her movements with his half-lidded gaze and that irritating smirk that lined his lips. The small of her back inadvertently made contact with the edge of the dining table, a squeal escaping her throat when his hands quickly roved over her side and stomach. Instead of matching his tickles, Korra squirmed against him. Well, until Naga came beside them to paw at their legs as if trying to break up what she thought was a fight.

 

A healthy flush colored her cheeks and the heat only intensified when she cracked open her eyes to find Tarrlok watching her with tenderness and affection laced within those pale blue depths. The sight alone got her heart to beat faster and her breath to catch in her throat. It wasn’t what she was expecting - maybe something along the lines of seduction - but definitely not this. Definitely not something that flashed a mental image of her biological father gazing at her mother.

 

But just as quick as the spark was there, it disappeared. “You are very childish, you know that?” He whispered as his hands released her waist in favor of the edge of the table, effectively caging her in his arms.

 

It reminded her a lot of the night before, although she had some semblance of coherence this time around compared to the heated mess she was at the bar. As if she caught him in her trap, she allowed a smirk to match his own and breathed, “You didn’t think I was very childish yesterday.”

 

He clenched his jaw, that tender spark replaced with a building darkness that had her smirk widen. “Speaking of which, that was a rather dirty trick you had up your sleeve.” He mentioned.

 

“Which trick?” She questioned innocently, her arms slowly looping around his neck. When he didn’t respond, his body taut, she prodded further with a finger tracing patterns against the nape of his neck. He must’ve liked what she was doing judging by the shiver she felt on his skin. “... When I showered in your bathroom..? When I practically gave you a handjob with my foot..? Or was it when gave you a flash of some panty..?”

 

As if he knew what she was doing, he gently tugged at her arms around his neck and leaned in, his lips grazing the shell of her ear as she stood frozen. “Just know that I’d rather see more than spots. The brownies were a nice touch, I appreciated it.” He whispered, pressing a mocking kiss to her cheek before returning to the low cooking meat on the stove.

 

Spirits.

Chapter Text

 

Korra had a long day at school. From two tests and a long lecture that seemed to last forever in calculus, well, to say her brain was fried was an understatement. And to top it all off, it was only Monday. She groaned into her pillow. Why couldn’t winter break come faster? Sure, it was still two months away, but her poor brain couldn’t handle the amount of stress the education system practically shoved at every teenager. At any rate, she’s grateful that she won their game of pool. Even if it was only for a week, she appreciated the temporary blessing. And judging by the time, Tarrlok must be nearly finished with her homework. It was only calculus today, which should be reasonable for the workaholic man.

 

She was content with staying in her room with Naga, simply listening to the new album Tarrlok bought her when he picked her up. But it wasn’t until she heard a rather harsh curse coming from the first floor that her brows furrowed in confusion.

 

Her mind initially thought it was Noatak. He did have a preference for coarse words, though she doesn’t have any ground to stand on when it comes to her vulgar vocabulary. But then she remembered Noatak was gone for the night. Where he went was beyond Korra, but she could care less when these things came to him.

 

Before standing from her lazed position on her mattress, Korra’s brows lifted. Huh. Who knew Tarrlok could break his poised politician facade once in a while. Maybe that was just his true personality peeking through the friendly and diplomatic man the city has come to know.

 

She cautiously padded her way down the stairs as Naga followed by her side. The sounds of mumbled curses and liquid being poured into a glass could be heard once she snuck a glance at the empty living room. With the practically incoherent words that she managed to catch, she hadn’t heard him this pissed since that time she made him go get her feminine hygienic products. Biting her lip, she carefully meandered her way to the sofa Tarrlok had been occupying, judging by the two pieces of paper, calculator and her notes placed on the coffee table.

 

Naga hopped onto the adjacent sofa as Korra watched the man move about with his glass of what she assumed was whiskey. Even though the sight was amusing, she didn’t know how to approach this Tarrlok. She’d already seen him buzzed, but with him drinking hard liquor this time, she didn’t know how he’d act, knowing full well the different personalities people could assume when they were drunk. Was he already drunk? Was he on his way to getting drunk? She didn’t know, but at least he was in the safe confines of the estate rather than out in the city where he needed to drive.

 

With slightly worried eyes, Korra watched him return to finish her homework, his taut face instantly softening into a sly smile as if he weren’t just mumbling indecipherable complaints and curses. “Oh, Korra. What a pleasant surprise.” He greeted sweetly, though she noticed the traces of irritation he was trying to restrain.

 

“Uhh, yeah.” She agreed reluctantly, watching the way he distractedly lit a cigarette and placed it between determined lips before his eyes caught hers expectantly. “Are you okay?” She asked. She was genuinely curious since Tarrlok typically kept his emotions at bay rather than blatantly show them.

 

Blowing out the smoke that filled his lungs, he offered her a deadpan look, replying with a, “Do I look okay?”

 

Korra gave him a good look. To be completely honest, he looked terrible, but she wasn’t going to say that. She didn’t want to get lectured to death or to be on the receiving end of Tarrlok’s wrath. With eyes that clearly said he didn’t give a shit, mouth set into a firm frown, hair disheveled, and his mood evidently had gone sour since dinner, well, it was clear that he wasn’t okay. “...No.” She meekly responded.

 

“Then there’s your answer.” He said with a slight bite in his tone, taking another inhale from his cigarette before returning to the last problem on the paper.

 

Well, shit. Someone here was clearly Mr. Sassy pants. This was undoubtedly an amusing sight to see with the normally serious and egotistical man, but it stunned her nonetheless. With raised brows and a cocked head, Korra poked a finger into her ear as if she heard wrong.

 

“Okay, old man. What happened? What got your diaper in a twist?” She questioned as he tapped the excess ash off into an ashtray on the table. His face twitched. And when he made no intention of responding, Korra reluctantly scooted closer to his side. Maybe he didn’t hear her..? Regardless, she pressed forward. “...Is it because you have to do my homework?” She guessed.

 

It was a justifiable reason to get angry, in Korra’s opinion. If she were to lose a bet with someone and they’d dump all their work onto her like it wasn’t any of their business, she’d get pretty angry.

 

Taking another hit of the cigarette, Tarrlok answered with a barely audible, “No.” His one-worded answered only confused Korra further, but only then did she realize they were sitting in the dim room in silence. As if he couldn’t stand the muteness, he blew out the smoke harshly and took a gulp of his whiskey before wincing at the tingling heat down his throat. She wasn’t expecting an answer from him, considering his quiet rage thus far, but was taken completely by surprise when he draped an arm around her shoulders, pulled her in close, and pointed the two fingers holding his cigarette towards the television. “Sweetheart, do you see these two people?”

 

She glanced at the television where a man and a woman stood almost flush against one another. Their intentions of leaving with a kiss was very evident judging by the way the woman was looking at the man with adoration and the tiniest bit of lust swimming in her purple eyes. “...What about them?” She asked in confusion, genuinely curious as to where this was headed.

 

“Well, this is moments before the man dies in a fiery blaze. Keep in mind, this show has been building up the tension between these two for three seasons now and once something remotely romantic happens, he dies.” Tarrlok explains with a shake of his head.

 

...That’s.. it? She nearly let out a bark of laughter at the pure emotion that man was showing. This of all things broke Tarrlok. Don’t get her wrong, Korra knows the mixture of fury and melancholy very well when it came to her interests in shows and movies, but she couldn’t stop the slow smile from creeping on her face. This was too good. She never in a million years would’ve expected Tarrlok to act this way about a couple in a show. He’s a pompous man. She would’ve believed him if he got upset over some uncultured swine mistaking the difference between young and aged wine. But this? This truly didn’t cross her mind.

 

Korra chewed at her lower lip to stifle the amused grin threatening to curve her lips, stuttering a, “...I-I’m sorry..?”

 

Finally releasing his hold on her, he rubbed at his temples and sighed. “The audacity of the creators.” He complained, closing his eyes as if he were in physical pain before smashing the butt of his cigarette in the ashtray as though his vice were too much of a task at the moment. Korra really couldn’t hold in the chuckles bubbling in her throat. And of course, this immediately caught Tarrlok’s attention. “This is no laughing matter, Korra.” He said all too seriously, his eyes silently asking why in seven hells she would be laughing at such a dire situation.

 

Holding her hands up in surrender, her amused expression almost instantly fell. “Okay. okay. I’m sorry for laughing.” She apologized, though even she could tell that it sounded unconvincing to her own ears. “So this is why you’re drinking?” She asked, gesturing towards the glass of whiskey on the table.

 

“Of course, it is. One of my favorite characters dies in the season finale, and leaves his true love to walk on this godforsaken planet alone. Not only that, but his character is flawed. He has a story to tell. Had . There could be an exceptional amount of depth that could be seen into his character that the show barely scratches the surface of. Something the creators clearly didn’t look into, considering they practically flayed the man alive rather abruptly.” He rambled, taking a swig of his alcohol.

 

What in spirits is he watching? Something with a flayed man? With a glance back onto the paused episode, she noticed the show appeared to be in some fantasy world with baby dragons and a warrior that apparently was about to die. “Wait, what?” She asked with a worried look in her eye.

 

Sighing, he reached for the bottle of the dark amber liquid before dejectedly pouring himself another glass. “I’m exaggerating, but that’s besides the point. They killed my favorite character and clearly severed the ties of what could have been a wonderful and complex couple.” He finished his point with another shake of his head.

 

This was undoubtedly one of the most endearing yet amusing nights she had had in a while. Changing her position on the sofa, Korra shifted closer Tarrlok and reluctantly rubbed at the poor man’s back in reassurance, although she desperately wanted to let out another bark of laughter at this odd sight.

 

—-

 

“This feels like a betrayal.” He slurred passionately.

 

Korra had to glance at him in amusement at the sound of his wavering voice. Was he seriously going to cry? Or was it the anger again? Whatever it was, this was all too entertaining to watch. He was talking about the so called ‘true love’ that walked on this ‘godforsaken planet alone’ who inevitably found another love interest soon after the finale. Granted, Tarrlok did have a point. The man died three episodes ago and the woman not only found another love interest, but this couple’s chemistry was rapidly brewing, unlike the one he favored.

 

With Tarrlok pouring himself his fifth - sixth..? - glass of whiskey, his mouth had no filter. She was slightly worried for him when she caught sight of the alcohol content indicated on the bottle. But nonetheless, Korra took pleasure in seeing this rare form of the man, considering he normally only indulged in a few glasses of alcohol, just enough to get buzzed.

 

When he was about to gulp down the glass he had just poured for himself, Korra intervened. As much as it was a funny sight to see, she didn’t want to take him to the emergency department for alcohol poisoning. Grasping his glass, a dollop of the liquid spilling onto his lap, Korra said, “Okay, I think it’s about time that you should stop watching your soaps, old man.”

 

His eyes were closed and his brows pinched as if offended. “This is not a soap. This is quality television at its finest.” He defended with a gesture of his hand, effortlessly allowing her to take his glass.

 

“Whatever you say.” She responded, not really listening to him as she placed the alcohol out of his reach.

 

Korra searched for the remote so she could turn the television off, and discovered it was wedged between the cushions and Tarrlok’s thigh. Groaning to herself, she cursed at her luck. She swore if he even so much as remembered this she doesn’t know what she’d do. Who knows, he might take it the wrong way. She crawled over his lap to grasp the remote and noticed Tarrlok following her movements curiously.

 

Suddenly, as she was leaning back, he stopped her with his hand at the small of her back. She glanced at him expectantly, but his glossy gaze was directed towards her neck. Korra tensed. She didn’t know what to make of this, even as he leaned in and heard him take a deep breath in. “You smell like cigarettes.” He said blandly.

 

This reminded her of their night at the bar and immediately felt a flush color her cheeks. It wasn’t what he said, but rather how he said it in that somewhat disinterested yet fascinated tone.

 

She pushed at his shoulder so she could move her arm, turn the television off, and leave them in the dim, warm room in silence. “No, that’s you, Tarrlok,” she replied, getting up from the sofa with a stretch before glancing down at the confused, laxed man. He opened his mouth as if to say something, but instantly thought better of it when it closed. With the way he was looking at her, he clearly had something on his mind. She stood there, waiting if he decided to say whatever it was, but when nothing came, she sighed a, “Well, I think I should be getting to bed, so I’d better skedaddle.”

 

All she did was turn on her heels when she felt Tarrlok’s large hand grasp her smaller one. “Don’t leave,” he pleaded.

 

She patted his hand that held hers. “Fine,” she acquiesced, taking her seat beside him once more. They lapse into a comfortable silence, and Korra caught a glance at her homework on the coffee table in front of him. She tried to reach for it, merely curious as to how he did, but the hand he had yet to release, gently squeezed to get her attention.

 

“Korra?” He asked, watching her with something akin to intrigue in his eyes.

 

“Hmm?” She responded with a hum.

 

Even under the influence, she felt a little restless under his intense scrutiny. Slowly blinking, he shifted the tiniest bit closer to her with a smug smile curving his lips. “Have I ever told you you’re very pretty?” He drawled out in his jumbled state.

 

The flush on her cheeks returned. With how close he was to her, she had no doubt that he could feel the heat radiating from her body as he laid his head lazily on the cushion beside her shoulder. “No, Tarrlok.” She said, shaking her hand from his grasp as she warily watched him practically give her heart eyes.

 

Lifting his head, his brows furrowed and he scratched at his temple in genuine confusion. “Really? I thought I have,” he mumbled. But that confusion was short lived when he glanced back into her eyes and his smug smirk intensified. “Hm, I must’ve been too entranced by your gracious beauty.”

 

Korra let out a soft chuckle. She seriously doubted in any universe she’d ever be called gracious. But this Tarrlok piqued her curiosity. Tilting her head to the side, she gave him a disbelieving look. “ Gracious ? I think you have the wrong person in mind.” She replied.

 

As if what she said was obviously incorrect, Tarrlok made a noise of refusal and shook his head exaggeratedly. “No, definitely you.” He responded, bopping her nose with the tip of his finger. Korra flinched away from his uncharacteristically playful touch and watched him peacefully close his eyes. She nearly let out a sigh of relief, that she could finally venture to her room rather than look over a drunk Tarrlok. Though once that sigh unconsciously escaped, Tarrlok cracked open his eyes, confusion returning in waves despite the ever present flattering tone the man held. “Do I know you, young lady?”

 

“Yes, Tarrlok.” She answered, unable to hide the amused smile even though his voice was overly saturated with sugar on the pet name. Usually she’d tell the guy to fuck off, but considering this was Tarrlok, she couldn’t necessarily do that… And she was curious as to where this conversation was headed.

 

Humming to himself, as if he were absorbing her words like a sponge, he asked, “What’s your name? I want to be coherent to remember such a lovely face.” He reached out to clumsily tuck the stray hairs at the side of her face.

 

“You just said my name, doofus.” She answered, shaking her head at how completely muddled he was.

 

Sighing, Tarrlok rubbed at his forehead in slight frustration that he couldn’t recall anything regarding Korra and narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “I did?” He wondered aloud.

 

Letting out a chuckle once again, Korra stood up and offered her hand to the poor, slumped man. “I think we should get you to bed,” she suggested, though it wasn’t what she thought, it was more that she knew she should get him to bed. Knowing him, he’d only get even more irked in the morning for not remembering the events that took place and for having a terrible hangover.

 

“Bed? Why sleep when the night is still young?” He asked, despite taking her hand without question.

 

Korra rolled her eyes, tugging at his arm rather aggressively that had him nearly colliding against her front. “It’s almost midnight, Tarrlok. You’re drunk and you have work tomorrow.” She spoke up, guiding his arm around her shoulder as she wrapped hers around his waist before he could sway and stumble over his own feet.

 

“Mn, yes,” he said, though Korra wasn’t sure what he was agreeing to. She decided to leave the subject alone and focused on the difficult task of lugging him up the stairs. With every step she took, Tarrlok watched his own feet intently, candidly trying to appear as though he were sober. If they were in public, and not in their warm estate, she would assume this would be a sorry sight to any passerbyers. Just when the thought sparked, Korra felt his dead weight slump onto her side unsteadily, nearly knocking her backwards on the stairs as his face practically nuzzled the side of her neck sloppily. “Spirits, you smell good.” He mumbled smugly.

 

Flushing, Korra tried to focus on not falling over, though it was a more than difficult with his hot breath curling over the skin of her neck teasingly.

 

Finally reaching his bedroom with a sigh, Korra harshly opened the door with a shaky hand and tried to hurry herself in plopping him unceremoniously onto his mattress. “Okay, there you g-” But just as luck was never in her favor, Tarrlok didn’t relinquish his hold on her and took her with him onto the bed. With her rather intimately straddling his hips and her ear right over his heart, Tarrlok wrapped his arms around her waist as though he were a child hugging a stuffed animal.

 

He hummed in content, eyes closed and a self-satisfied smirk plastered on his lips. When she felt him give no intention of releasing his hold, she squirmed restlessly against his front and immediately thought against it, considering what exactly was pressed against her hips, hesitantly asking, “..Can you let go of me? I need to sleep, too.”

 

Although his arms relaxed, he didn’t let go of her. When he didn’t so much as make a peep, Korra began accepting her fate on what exactly she’d be sleeping on. Well, at least he was comfortable to lie on, she reasoned. Although that greedy part of her brain stored that information for later reference with a devious smile. His breathing evened out and his heartbeat calmed her as she heard it pulsating in time with hers. At that point, she figured he fell asleep, but once she made a careful move to escape his embrace, his arms gently squeezed her waist.

 

“Wait!” He said almost in a panic with Korra instantly stiffening against him. She clearly wasn’t expecting him to still be awake. And as if he wasn’t just internally panicking, Tarrlok slumped once again, saying rather dejectedly, “Put me out of my misery.”

 

Confused, Korra didn’t know why he’d be asking such a thing. “I won’t do that, Tarrlok.” She replied, looking up at his handsome face even under the influence of alcohol. Was it still because of that guy that died in his show? Whatever it could be, Korra didn’t give it much thought and chalked it up to the whiskey talking.

 

He frowned at her words, looking genuinely sad. And for reasons beyond Korra, she decided to distract him. “Tarrlok?” She called his name.

 

“Hm?” He hummed back in question.

 

“Why do you think I’m pretty?” She asked. Though she felt silly for asking such a question, some tiny part of her was curious to know his answer. Daring a glance up, his mouth was set into a firm line as he thought about her question as if it were the a math problem she had told him to solve.

 

Once he got started, it was difficult for his mouth to stop. Though she figured that was the politician in him still trying to flatter his way to her liking. He listed her charms, rambling on about one thing or another, before he began to repeat himself continuously. Korra barely paid attention, focusing on the way his fingers wove through her now mussed hair soothingly and the way his smooth voice rumbled against her ear comfortingly. She relaxed against his front, feeling herself begin to doze off when she caught his last mumbled words.

 

She must’ve heard wrong.

 

Blearily looking at him, she found him staring at the ceiling in content. “What?” She uttered in question.

 

When he met her eyes with his clouded with ease and distraction, she felt him rather than heard him chuckle. “I said, I like you.” He slurred with a smirk.

 

Heart inadvertently beating faster and a flush coloring her cheeks, Korra felt herself freeze at his words. Did he mean…? Or did he mean…? She chewed at her lower lip, absorbing the new information. He most likely wasn’t serious. Judging by the blissful expression on his relaxed face, he was practically skipping on cloud nine right now, so he was just rambling nonsense… right?

 

“I would hope so since I’m your adopted daughter.” She tried to sway the conversation. But he was adamant.

 

Shaking his head, he tried to clarify as the hand that combed through her hair gently trailed down the column of her spine in slow circles. “No, no, no. You’ve got it all wrong, dear. I mean I like you.” The way he stressed the last part made her shiver. Or was it just his hand? Korra couldn’t decide as it was very distracting, but she was sure that he meant it in the way children confessed their affection towards their crush.

 

She shouldn’t have heard that. If Tarrlok was the smug bastard that he normally was sober, she would’ve guessed he meant to keep that a secret. But with his lips loose, his confession only made her more curious. She was about to ask to elaborate, but ultimately decided against it. Tarrlok liked his privacy, and she felt as though she were violating that just by being in his room in the dead of night pressed against him the way she was. Swallowing over the lump in her throat, she thought it was best if she left him.

 

Prying his arms off of her, even though a part of her really didn’t want to leave, she stood and sighed, “... You should get some sleep.” It was only the alcohol, and nothing more.

 

Chapter Text

 

“Why did you bring me here, Noatak?” Tarrlok asked tiredly, running a hand through his hair.

 

It had been an exhausting day at City Hall, as it usually was with the constant monotony, and he figured spending the rest of the evening with Korra would have been in order. For some odd reason, she had been avoiding him all day. It wasn’t blatantly obvious, but it was the one-worded answers that caught his attention.

 

Did he do something? Did he say something? Does he smell? He figured he smelt the same as his usual cologne and cigarettes, but Tarrlok couldn’t be too sure. The last time he’d seen her like this was those few days after Noatak moved in, but that quickly was resolved with their little trip to Harmony Tower. He still didn’t know what had come over himself that night. To have the gall to shamelessly move in to kiss his legal daughter out in public was beyond him, as if he was running on instinct, but he was rather thankful for the distraction that came barging in.

 

If those tourists hadn’t stepped in, he didn’t know how far he’d take the spell she casted on him, what consequences that would inevitably ensue.

 

Spirits, it felt like a lifetime ago since then. Then it was a could-have-been simple, romantic kiss, but now, it was all types of torture. He must have been too preoccupied on certain events, thinking over his work and what he could do to help Korra, that he hadn’t noticed Noatak attempting to talk to him as they ate dinner.

 

And despite all efforts - blatantly saying he’d rather have a night in rather out in the city - his brother practically dragged him to the same exact bar they visited a few days prior. If this was his form of punishment, it was a terrible one, considering his mind was still aimed at a certain teenager. How he even managed to finish his work today - and the days before that - was beyond his comprehension.

 

They were sitting at a lone table for two near the back corners of the establishment. It wasn’t nearly as packed as it was a few days ago, but the constant cacophony of music and drunken patrons were still ringing in his ears. Through the warm, dim lights, Noatak had yet to make a move from his lounged position in his seat, uncaring that he could have tripped drunken individuals in need of a bladder break as he stretched long limbs out and watched his baby brother with an inquisitive eye while his finger tapped against the wood steadily.

 

Filling his lungs with the cigarette smoke hanging in the air, Noatak tilted his head as if the answer was obvious even to the dumbest of people. “Because you’re incapable of talking to me when cupcake is around.” He spoke up, his eyes unyielding in a silent challenge.

 

With a scoff, Tarrlok shook his head in mixture of amusement and exhaustion as he pulled out a cigarette and his lighter from his back pocket, murmuring, “I didn’t know I was obliged to speak to you.” He lit his cigarette, taking a deep inhale of the smoke before reaching for a glass of whiskey on their platter filled with alcohol.

 

Rolling pale blue depths skyward, Noatak finally tore his gaze away from his brother in favor of grasping the glass of foaming beer from the platter. “Why are you incessantly upset, brother?” He questioned, the tone in his gravelly voice sounding as though he were just about at his limit with Tarrlok. But Tarrlok could retaliate in return if his brother had his fair share of vexation. Before he could respond with some snarky remark already forming in the back of his mind, Noatak was observing him with intense scrutiny. He made a sound in the back of his throat as if he figured out why he was so upset as he took a healthy swig of his beer. “Okay, okay. I see what’s happening here. Can’t keep up with the younger crowd, huh?” He quipped with hands up in surrender and a quirk of his lips.

 

His train of thought slowed to a snail’s crawl. Whether it was due to the fact that he began his now nightly ritual in consuming whiskey or due to the nicotine filtering through his bloodstream and inevitably calming his frayed nerves, Tarrlok didn’t know. But at the sound of his brother’s grotesque cackling, he shook himself as the meaning registered. “You’re hilarious.” He replied blandly.

 

With a shrug, Noatak took another gulp of his drink. “Just speaking the truth,” he murmured, a little too cheeky for Tarrlok’s liking. He tapped at the excess ash with a single finger levelly, giving his brother an unamused expression that clearly read he was dragged out of his home against his will. But that didn’t faze Noatak, since he gave no indication in stopping his jests. “You have to give her props though, considering it was her first time playing.”

 

“Yes, well, that’s been established already.” Tarrlok uttered underneath his breath, glancing around the bar with uninterested eyes as he brought the cigarette between determined lips once more and inhaled the smoke.

 

His eyes first honed in on the musicians at the other side of the room. Though the music wasn’t necessarily the type he would personally favor, he appreciated the needed distraction nonetheless. He then fleeted by the group of people already flushing from the alcohol they consumed, clapping and singing rather horribly and uncoordinatedly to the beat. Wincing, Tarrlok watched the men and women intermingled into an intoxicated mass. Well, he surely found people who sang even more appallingly than Korra.

 

Fortunately for him, Tarrlok had enough sense in his mind to break his gaze from the vile sight, and returned back to his own brother watching him. There was something in his eyes that Tarrlok hated witnessing, especially when it was directed towards him.

 

He hadn’t seen the pity in his brother’s eyes since that dreaded night thirteen years ago, and he had no intention of beginning it once again.

 

Sighing, Noatak’s face softened as though he were tired, his shoulders visibly slumping. “Brother, what are you doing?” He asked almost inaudibly with all the sounds mixing about in one room.

 

Tarrlok knew what he was referring to, but he didn’t want to approach the topic tonight. With the tiniest of shrugs, Tarrlok matched his brother’s pitiful gaze with a daring one of his own “I’m drinking.” He said bluntly before gulping the rest of his whiskey with another wince.

 

Impatiently tapping his fingers against the wood, the other man scoffed at Tarrlok’s attitude. “Don’t act dumb, it’s atrocious. You know exactly what I’m talking about.” He pointedly accused as he leaned back into his chair. He knew his brother all too well that he wouldn’t leave the subject alone until he was satisfied with a proper answer.

 

To the spirits above, all Tarrlok wanted was merely one night where he could relax. And yet he couldn’t get even that. From one night after another, he was in constant strain that his body ached and silently begged him to relax just for a few hours. If it wasn’t Korra then it was Noatak and vice versa. It was times like these that he had to question why his brother was out of prison in the first place. Why whoever it was decided to do this to him now that he had someone else to take care of.

 

It may come off as cruel, considering what Noatak did all those years ago just to protect him, and he did appreciate his brother immensely, but he needed to relax. The constant tension was undoubtedly taking its toll on him and knowing that his past issues were slowly rising once again along with his current problems with Korra… there was just too much to attempt to control all at once.

 

Rubbing his exhausted face with large hands, Tarrlok sighed, reluctantly murmuring, “... I don’t know.”

 

From what he could see from the slits between his fingers, Noatak was confused. Of course, he was. He didn’t doubt that he’d understand what he’s going through. The mixture of frustration, anger, arousal, and the hint of misery was something only the spirits would cast upon him from above. Considering his streak of misfortune, he wouldn’t put it past them.

 

Scratching at the stubble forming on his jawline, the other man narrowed his eyes in bewilderment. “What do you mean, you don’t know?” He demanded further.

 

Tarrlok sharply exhaled, leaning back into his chair in vexation. What other meaning could be held in the simple phrase? Even a mere child could understand that. Okay, okay, Tarrlok. Stop this. He needed to calm down before he made a scene and have unwanted attention of them. “I mean, I don’t know.” He said harshly, pinching at the bridge of his nose to reel in his patience. But before his brother could respond, Tarrlok continued with a shake of his head. “... I genuinely thought this was a little crush that she’d overcome and that I’d be able to stop it between us.”

 

It was the truth. There was no use in lying to his brother who could sense his fib from miles away. He didn’t favor discussing personal matters very much, considering he never had anyone to confide in, but at the same time he had to acknowledge that he was in over his head on it. And even if he desperately prayed there was some sign that could deter the conversation, Tarrlok was already accepting his fate in divulging this part of him that he tried not to think about, though he knew it was inevitable. With how rapidly things were escalating between them, despite the slightest change in her behavior since earlier this morning, he knew Noatak would’ve brought it up eventually. He just wasn’t ready for it now.

 

Before taking a drink of his beer, Noatak let out a humorless laugh. “Yeah and look where that got you.” He replied bitterly. When Tarrlok said nothing in return, simply content with inhaling the last bit of smoke from his shortened cigarette, the older man rubbed at his eyes tiredly. “Look, I told myself that I’d leave you to deal with this one on your own, and I still am, but she’s a teenager, brother.” He reminded as gently as possible.

 

Smashing the rest of his cigarette in the ashtray in front of him, Tarrlok clenched his jaw. “I know. I know whatever this thing is between us is nothing more than an infatuation of sorts, but I don’t want to break the girl’s heart.” He reasoned. Just the thought alone didn’t sit well with him and seeing her dejected was certainly something he hated to think about. Ever since meeting her at the orphanage, he continuously wanted to see her smile, and anything that would prevent her from happiness was taken as a failure on his part. Swallowing over his suddenly tight throat, he rubbed at his temples and spoke up. “I think I’m breaking through to her and I don’t want this to come between that rapport we already built. I’m supposed to be her father.”

 

“Then why aren’t you acting like one? The last thing she needs is someone like you tying her down when she clearly experienced something traumatic.” He replied, taking the pack of cigarettes from Tarrlok’s side of the table before lighting it with a switch.

 

Offering his brother a tired glance, he stretched his long limbs underneath the table as he folded his arms across his broad chest. Did Noatak truly think he was so vapid as to think he never considered what their unspoken game was actually doing to her? With the constant belittling, Tarrlok didn’t know whether to disregard his brother or to keep an open ear to his reasoning. “You think I don’t know that? That I haven’t thought about this?” He prodded.

 

With the smoke steadily escaping the other man’s lips, Noatak leaned forward with elbows propped on the table. Tarrlok knew that he was only doing this to intimidate him into a sense of rationality, but he had grown accustomed to such absurdities when they were mere children. “There’s no need to get hostile, brother. All I’m saying is that you need to consider the consequences other than what would come between you two. You’re damn lucky that none of the press has found out by now. Whatever you two are playing at, it’s reckless… But besides that, you can’t keep hiding things from her. She’s going to find out eventually.” He reasoned.

 

Tarrlok had to sigh inwardly. He had a point, nothing could ever be hidden forever, especially when it came to Korra. Who knew what he’d be sharing with her within a few weeks, let alone months or even years. That in itself set his nerves in unease. Spirits, he didn’t want to think about that.

 

“What about?” He questioned as he reached for another glass of whiskey from their platter, swirling the dark amber liquid before meeting his brother’s gaze once more.

 

Evidently not falling for his tricks, Noatak offered him a how-stupid-do-you-think-I-am look. Even if it pained him to admit it, Tarrlok knew his brother was right. “Tarrlok, she’s an inquisitive girl, she’s going to weasel her way into finding out about father and about who should’ve been in prison rather than her dear uncle.” He said bluntly, almost coldly.

 

He clenched his jaw, brows pinched as he thought. He makes it sound so easy, as if he could easily walk up to Korra right at this moment and tell her his whole life story, something that he had deliberately kept hidden from prying individuals. If she found out about what he’d done… he couldn’t bare to watch her face morph from defeat to blatant fear. He had no doubt that she’d be afraid of him. And he wouldn’t blame her if she did.

 

“Why do you think I don’t want to break the girl’s heart? I know I should tell her, but there’s a time and place for that.” He muttered as he ran a hand through his hair irritatedly.

 

“And when exactly is there a time to talk about that?” Noatak countered harshly. From the cold yet indifferent look in his eyes, he knew his brother wouldn’t stop until he made his point abundantly clear. And just as he opened his mouth to respond, the other man continued with a slight sting in his tone. “From what I’ve observed you two are acting like horny teenagers, rather than talking things out like a father would to his daughter. Brother, I’ve protected you countless times. I know you’re a politician now, that lying and manipulating people is something you evidently had gotten accustomed to in these thirteen years I’ve been gone, but the longer you wait to tell her, the longer she’d avoid you when you do.”

 

It was times like these that Tarrlok simply allowed Noatak to speak his mind before offering his own opinion, though he doubted anything he said would suffice against what was inevitably bound to occur between him and Korra.

 

“She’d avoid me because of father?” He questioned before taking a swig of the whiskey in his grasp.

 

“You know what I’m talking about. I don’t think she’d follow you around like some feline in heat if she found out what you did all those years ago. I know the reasoning behind it, but she might not even if you tell her. You know she’s a rash girl. She’ll view you differently.” He replied coldly. Tarrlok couldn’t bare to look into his brother’s eyes practically shooting daggers at his forehead, stubbornly staring at his own exhausted reflection in the liquid. He wasn’t angry at Noatak, despite how it might appear on the outside. He was angry at himself for allowing this situation to happen.

 

When they lapsed into silence, he heard the other man let out a long, suffering sigh before continuing delicately. “Look, I apologize for dampening the mood. I know I can’t judge you for this so called infatuation you two have, and I don’t want to. You didn’t when we worked together and I appreciated that. You two could be fucking or in love, for all I know, but at least keep it away from the public eye and be honest with her. She needs that.” He said, tapping the wood beneath his fingertips one last time before making his move towards the bar.

 

He was right. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t imagine the hurt in her eyes. He could see the pity when he’ll confide in his issues from childhood, then it’d contort into fear and agitation. But he could be wrong, that maybe he was just jumping to conclusions. Considering he had never spoken about his past to anyone - besides with Noatak since they had experienced it together - the thought alone was unnerving. Nobody in his life had been so personally attached to him that he considered divulging his history, but Korra was important to him. That didn’t change the fact that the thought of Korra having such knowledge… no, it’s too much of a burden to put on her when she was already going through her own issues.

 

Just like Noatak said, she’d view him differently. And that was exactly what he didn’t want to result from it.

 

He had to sigh to himself. This must’ve been his karma after what had happened thirteen years ago. He never thought he’d be so low as to believe in absurd superstitions. With over a decade to himself, to climb his way up the political ladder, everything was falling into place. But nothing great could last forever, judging by the turmoil he was experiencing at this moment.

 

Yielding with a gulp of his whiskey, Tarrlok knew he would tell her. He just needed time to think, time to plan out what he’d say, time to prepare himself for the unfamiliar territory of finally telling the truth to someone who was immensely important in his life.

 

—-

 

Tarrlok didn’t have any particular fascination in their conversation after what had happened a mere hour prior. He let time pass freely, knowing full well his night would be spent in this bar, and decidedly kept his mouth shut while Noatak recounted stories of the thirteen years he spent in prison.

 

He was barely paying attention, his mind was too focused on the simple fact that he’ll eventually have to tell Korra. Before his impromptu intervention, he knew it’ll inevitably come to that in the back of his mind. But now that it was voiced, the thought ran in circles in his head and he tried to distract himself by glancing around the room. The musicians took a ten minute break and within that time the majority of the boisterous noise settled into nothing but the patrons chatting away in useless exchanges and the constant clambering of glass. The sound numbed his mind, but the thoughts, unfortunately, didn’t vanish.

 

To say he felt pathetic and inane was an understatement. How did he manage to feel so thwarted by this young woman that he was unable to string a coherent sentence even in the privacy of his own thoughts? How did he manage to escalate this attraction of theirs into something he knew was now out of his control?

 

Unconsciously tapping at the cigarette between his fingers in an unspoken rhythm, their conversation, moreso Noatak’s ramblings, eventually dissipated into silence, the two brothers taking solace in each other’s company simply observing the drunken mass of people.

 

It was merely his second time in this particular establishment and Tarrlok already decided he loathed it, for every time he stepped into this humid and cloudy room, all he could think about is the way Korra’s hips pressed perfectly against his or the flash of cheeky cotton she allowed him to see. It was more than he’d expected and it only proved Noatak’s point further in having to stop this game of theirs and actually treat her as a daughter.

 

He should be disgusted with himself. For wanting to have romantic relations with his legal daughter, for blatantly expressing such emotions to her, for stringing her along, for focusing on greed and lust for her rather than helping her through her personal issues and grow as a healthy young woman. Spirits, he really wasn’t that much different from his own father. That alone produced shivers of aversion coursing through his veins.

 

No. He was nothing like that horrendous man, he thought repeatedly.

 

Absently, Tarrlok brought the cigarette up to his lips, breathing in the nicotine before blowing the smoke out in steady streams. As his gaze scanned the room, he found that it was slightly tranquil knowing that the two of them were hidden in a dark corner, that no one would bother them, which he also considered unfortunate because it left him with nothing to do but think. Try as he might to redirect his thoughts, or clear them completely, his mind kept turning back to Korra. Would it be considered cowardly of him to avoid the truth?

 

Tarrlok was pulled out of his reverie when he heard a content sigh escape the other man. Glancing at the source of the sound, he found Noatak evidently determined to drink himself into a stupor. Though only slightly worried for his brother across from him - he had been drinking quite excessively lately - Tarrlok stared at his second glass of whiskey absently. Noatak must’ve noticed even through his buzzed state, judging by the sound of him clearing his throat.

 

Instead of prodding at the subject further, he felt the need to fill the silence between them. Tarrlok wasn’t one to complain about that, any form of a distraction would’ve been helpful seeing as his thoughts remained stubbornly fixated on the one topic he was trying to avoid. And immediately, albeit vaguely awkwardly, Noatak began easing his way into familiar territory.

 

Though he brought up the past - something Tarrlok avoided as well - it was mainly the few happy memories they shared with their family that he mentioned. From stories of their neighbor that the brothers both seemed to have a crush on to stories of their mother and the holidays, time passed easily under the distraction. Although, Tarrlok duly noted the other man intentionally left any story involving their father out of it.

 

“I still can’t believe it’s been decades since then.” Noatak grunted as he stretched his arms above his head before reaching to fidget with his brother’s lighter.

 

Shaking his head, Tarrlok made a sound at the back of his throat. “I can.” He replied, downing the last of his whiskey. Spirits, it’s been how long since that happened? Nearly thirty years to be exact, and to this day, that was one of the most memorable and endearing moments of his life, considering it was the first time he was attracted to the opposite sex.

 

It was when Tarrlok was seven and Noatak was ten. Their neighbor, Fumi, always came over with her mother to exchange recipes with their own mother. They were great friends until a point in their lives that forced them to abruptly stop speaking to one another. But before then, when their innocent fondness grew for the young girl, Tarrlok hid behind Noatak bashfully, while his older brother pushed him to give her the flowers jointly. At that point in time, all Fumi could do was allow a pink tinge of heat color her pale cheeks before giving both brothers the gentlest of pecks on their cheeks.

 

He recalled Noatak standing there, proud, while he himself stood frozen with a deep flush heating his own cheeks as he touched the place she had just kissed. It must’ve been painfully obvious to any outsider other than the brothers to see that he really admired this girl, considering both mothers cooed at the adorable sight, clutching at their chests and joking about being in-laws as Fumi modestly fiddled with the ribbon holding the white orchids together.

 

As if sensing the conversation was dwindling, Noatak once again felt the need to fill the silence between them despite the music and the crowd producing enough noise throughout the establishment.

 

With a grotesque sound, the other man chuckled into his drink as he gulped into his third glass of foaming beer. “Remember when we’d jest with mother?” He asked, unable to contain the grin from etching itself on his face.

 

Allowing a rumbling sound of laughter to escape his throat, Tarrlok leaned back into his chair as his body began to relax. “She’d constantly have this expression on her face-“ He began.

 

“As though she’d come and get us.” Noatak finished, mimicking the face of their mother. It was precisely an expression that had the tiniest curves of her lips quirking into a smirk and her pale blue eyes set into a lazy stare. Though it was nothing special to any passersby, the two brothers knew what that expression entailed, specifically that of being chased with open arms and an inevitable tickle attack.

 

Cackling, Tarrlok nodded. “That’s the one.” He said, pointing to Noatak’s face with the nearly gone cigarette between his two fingers. Spirits, those were times that his mother still wore a smile on her face. That much he remembered. As much as he wasn’t a sentimental man now - after years of hiding the truth from the whole city and the world he had grown detached to his own emotions regarding his family - he never wanted to forget the loving and mirthful expression of his mother. She was a kind and caring woman, but that inevitably changed in a span of a few months. He sighed, starting to feel the solemn nature of their childhood creep back into his mind. “Those were the good days. Simple innocence.”

 

He almost wanted to laugh at recalling their years throughout life.

 

When he was seven he wanted to become a detective, at thirteen a doctor, and as he grew from the shackles of their father he decided he wanted to be as far away as he could be - physically, mentally, and emotionally - from him and took an interest in political science and law. He became educated, graduated at the top of his class, became the youngest politician elected on the council, and yet that meant very little when he thought of the mistakes he’d made thus far. But even as he tried to remove any association of his father in his life, he ventured to guess it must have been his streak of bad luck or he was figuratively and literally following in his shadows, considering the events that took place to end up with the Tarrlok now. If his seven-year-old timid self knew what he’d have to go through - what he’d done that could’ve destroyed all that he worked for - he wouldn’t have believed him, even as it was happening.

 

As though he didn’t notice the change in the atmosphere, though Tarrlok guessed it was due to the alcohol he was consuming, Noatak scoffed. “I’d hardly call it simple innocence with the way father lashed out whenever he walked into a room. It’s as if he was just a ball of rage and alcohol, that there was no happiness that resided in him.” He said bitterly.

 

Tarrlok made a sound of agreement, trying with all his might to not think of the many times furnisher was thrown about and of the hand that continuously striked at his cheek or his side. Clenching his jaw, he grasped the next glass of whiskey on the platter. For what they’ve been through as brothers, there was no doubt that they’d both become alcoholics. Though Tarrlok learned his lesson a few times where he neared death, he still indulged in the intoxicating liquid rather cautiously, unlike his brother who seemed to still relish the feel of inebriation.

 

His eye caught movement at his side and instinctively turned towards the source of their intruder. Tarrlok relaxed when he saw it was Shin, and a part of him was grateful for the interruption from his morose thoughts. He lifted his brows in a haphazard greeting.

 

Matching Tarrlok’s welcome, Shin lifted his hand in a careless wave before tucking it back into his pockets. “Well, well, well. Look at the two idiot brothers I finally stumbled upon.” He joked with a teasing smile.

 

Noatak shook his head in disbelief. And for a moment, Tarrlok forgot that these two hadn’t seen each other in well over a decade.

 

“Well, I’ll be damned. Shin,” Noatak greeted as he let a crooked smirk line his lips.

 

Shifting his weight from one foot to the other in his slouched posture, the other man matched Noatak’s gaze as he eyed him, drinking in the new, aged brother. “Spirits, it’s been how long?”

 

“Only thirteen years, get in here!” Noatak demanded, standing from his seat to hug the other man with harsh pats on each other’s backs. Tarrlok let an amused smile curve his lips at the way two forty-year-old men still acted as though they were teenagers. But as Shin pulled a chair from an empty table nearby, flipping it so he straddled the cheap wood, Noatak took his seat once again and drank from the glass of beer.

 

“How’d you get out of prison? I thought you can’t escape the feds?” He asked as he grasped the half empty pack of cigarettes on the table and placed one between his lips.

 

Offering him the lighter, Noatak cleared his throat as Tarrlok swirled his whiskey distractedly. “As I’ve told Tarrlok here, someone deemed me enough of a pertinent patron of Republic City to bail me out.” He said before Shin took a deep inhale of the smoke and his brows rose an inch.

 

With an exhale, the smoke escaping his lungs in puffs, the other man scratched at his cheek. “Wow, that’s rather generous of them.” Shin replied with genuine surprise woven in his voice. Tarrlok expected him to react as much. Even with his fortune now, he couldn’t deny that it was a lot of money to bail a dangerous criminal out of prison. When they lapsed into a heavy silence, Shin glanced back and forth between the two brothers, waiting for either one of them to talk. With a cocked head, he watched them in suspicion. “You’re not going to tell me who?” He murmured.

 

Tarrlok sighed, shrugging tiredly as he brought his glass of whiskey to his lips. “We’re still not sure, but we have suspicions it’s a certain wealthy individual who just so happened to have ties with Korra.” He responded.

 

He was almost certain their guess was correct. The motive was there, the money was there, and with the little he heard about him in his endeavors for the past thirteen years, he still was doing that business of his on the side.

 

Shin clicked his tongue as if the thought alone meant they were in a lot of trouble. He wasn’t wrong if that were the case, but Tarrlok didn’t want to jump to conclusions when they didn’t have enough evidence to prove their suspicions correct. “Well, shit. If that’s true, keep her out of it. You need to preserve that innocence that’s still in her and whatnot.” He replied with a pointed finger.

 

“Whatever is left of it by then.” Noatak quipped hastily, and fortunately for him, Shin didn’t seem to notice, favoring the simple joy of breathing in the toxins of a cigarette. Tarrlok immediately shot his brother a glare at the unnecessary comment.

 

At the mention of one of his favorite music lovers, much to Tarrlok’s dismay, Shin gave him a teasing smirk and asked, “How is that little firecracker of yours? She must be keeping you busy if you’re here.” He gestured towards the empty glasses of whiskey.

 

Cackling to himself, which only made Tarrlok narrow his eyes further, his brother spoke up. “I’m not quite sure if ‘busy’ is the right word for that.”

 

“Noatak-” Tarrlok warned.

 

But he was abruptly interrupted by a wave of Noatak’s hand in dismissal. “Don’t listen to him, he’s just frustrated.” He rasped to Shin, though the look on his face and the wiggling of his brows made it very obvious as to what he must’ve been talking about.

 

“Huh?” Shin asked, the insinuation lost on him as his face scrunched into confusion. Even though the attention was centered over him and Korra, Tarrlok nearly rolled his eyes at their clueless friend. Throughout their years of friendship, he was the same as he was when they first met him, and he hoped that that wouldn’t change. With a sigh and sharp nudge of Noatak’s elbow to the other man’s arm, the meaning suddenly dawned on him. “ Ohhhh … wait, seriously? The ever so diplomatic Councilman and his little firecracker? That sure puts a whole different meaning to a dysfunctional family.” He said with a knowing and mischievous spark in his eyes.

 

Leaning back into his chair, Tarrlok took a sip at his drink. “Yes, well, if you’d be so kind, I think there are more pressing matters than what goes on between me and my adopted daughter.” He said coolly, attempting to sway the conversation rather blatantly.

 

But just like the recent events, nothing in this conversation was in his control by the way Noatak nudged at their friend once again with a roguish smile etched on his face. “Hm, notice he used ‘adopted daughter’ rather than Korra… or what he likes to call her: sweetheart .” The older brother replied, leaning close to Shin’s side before the two began snickering to themselves.

 

Of course, this would happen. Every opportunity Noatak had to ridicule him was taken with his eager hands ever since they were children. Why would it be any different now that they were middle-aged men? By now, the two were clutching at their sides as they laughed heartily, Noatak’s head tossing with each shake, Shin nearly choking on the smoke he inhaled as his fist banged against the table, and their cheeks growing red from the strain.

 

Tarrlok drummed his nails on the table slowly, completely unamused by their train of thought and for even talking about Korra in such a way. “Are you two about done now?” He ground out, his teeth clenching so tightly that his jaw was beginning to ache.

 

Still laughing as they both wiped at their eyes, Noatak took a deep, steadying breath and gasped out, “Yeah, just about.”

 

Shin cleared his throat noisily, apparently having more mercy for Tarrlok than his own brother, and decidedly tried to sway the conversation even though the grin lining his thin lips remained plastered on his face. “So what were you two talking about when I walked in?” He asked, taking another hit from his cigarette.

 

“Just reminiscing… childhood… teenagehood… ” Tarrlok remarked dryly, causing Noatak to begin his cackling all over again.

 

What in seven hells was so comical? If he continued like this, Tarrlok would’ve thought that there was something seriously wrong with his brother. Maybe he should invest in a professional to diagnose his dear brother? No, that’s too cruel on his part.

 

Cocking his head to the side, he watched his brother continue to laugh alone as though he were snickering at his own joke before voicing it. But instead of a joke of some sort, he licked his lips and began to mumble, “I know I shouldn’t bring up past flames-“

 

“Then why should you start now?” Tarrlok interjected harshly, frowning though he still clenched his teeth unconsciously.

 

Was there seriously no other topic they could speak of that didn’t involve Noatak mocking him? He knew it was all good fun, mere jesting between two siblings, but just as he established earlier in the night, he wanted to relax. The ache in his jaw and, to be frank, the rest of his body was inevitably shortening his temper, doing exactly the opposite of what their previous hour consisted of.

 

With a gesture that clearly made Tarrlok’s brow twitch, his brother shook his head. “Now, now, brother. Don’t get your panties in a twist. I merely recalled the school dance we all went to…” Noatak drawled with another smirk.

 

Tarrlok narrowed his eyes in confusion. He was lost. And judging by Shin’s face, he presumed he was too. Although, that wasn’t a rarity in itself considering the man’s penchant for being oblivious even in their high school years. Granted, he was intelligent and crafty when a situation called for it, but all those lunch breaks spent in his brother and Shin’s company proved his point when they spoke of class and music and whatever teenagers spoke of those days.

 

“What…?” Shin questioned. But just the same as a few moments ago, Noatak gave the man a hardened look that had him almost immediately recalling the story he was talking about. “Ohhhh! That one,” he said as the slow smile curved both of their lips.

 

With just one glance at each other, the two returned to their fit of laughter. Tarrlok had to look away from the two, bitterly glancing around the room for any distraction, but unfortunately for him, Shin and his brother’s cackling grew louder. Scratching at his jawline with vexation, he dared a narrowed look back at the two when he heard them attempting to catch their breaths. Shin was hunched over, his cigarette forgotten, while Noatak relaxed into his chair with a blissful expression and his hands clutched at his stomach.

 

When he deemed it sufficient time for them to gather their wits, Tarrlok folded his arms across his chest as though he were a moody child and asked, “Would either of you like to enlighten me or are you both just going to keep giggling like lovesick school girls?”

 

“Really, brother? You don’t remember the only dance we went to together?” He countered as the occasional snicker bubbled from both of their throats. Of course, he wasn’t gathering what Noatak was saying. Was he seriously already this inebriated that he couldn’t recall his own experiences? He knew it took more than two and a half glasses of whiskey to get him drunk, but he would’ve felt the effects of the alcohol blazing through his system if that were the case. As if Noatak sensed his bewilderment, he added, “Your freshman year, our senior year?”

 

And with that simple hint, it all came flooding back. With widened eyes, Tarrlok recalled the memory he intentionally kept hidden away to the dark corners of his mind. Over the years he never thought to bring it up again, and inevitably forgot about the embarrassing scene. It was his first school dance and one of his classmates apparently grew fond of him throughout the few months of high school. He didn’t want to turn her down, and regrettably said yes to her, although he knew she’d never talk to him again after some idiot spiked the punch - he had an inkling who it’d been, considering it was the two men in front of his eyes that dawdled around the punch for quite some time before insisting on drinking the beverage - and he vomited all over his date’s dress.

 

“I thought we agreed that we’d never bring that up again?” Tarrlok quickly hissed as Shin threw his head back in his fit of laughter, as though that made the situation any better.

 

Noatak shrugged before taking a healthy swig of his beer, asking, “Where’s the fun in that?”

 

—-

 

Tarrlok was surprised that Noatak found enough of his footing to make it from the bar and the train station, then all the way back to the estate. From what he observed throughout the evening of beer and whiskey and even more beer, Noatak was determined to get piss drunk. And he succeeded. He had to sigh to himself as they parted ways with Shin, regrettably destined to be Noatak’s source of support even though he himself occasionally stumbled through the train station.

 

Fortunately for them, only a few other drunk patrons boarded the train at past midnight and witnessed the sorry state the two brothers exhibited.

 

The estate was eerily quiet when they returned. Each room was darkened except for a single candle flickering on the table near the front door.

 

Despite Noatak still staggering in his footing, he had some semblance of sobriety as he grasped the railing and stumbled his way to the guest bedroom. Undoubtedly, he was going to promptly lie unconscious for the next eight hours, give or take. Noatak did drink a lot more than he did, in any case.

 

Taking a deep breath in, inhaling the subtle fragrance of pumpkin spice wafting throughout the foyer, Tarrlok unceremoniously kicked his shoes to the corner. It was only when he locked the front door with a soft click did he realize with a murmured curse that her habits really were rubbing off onto him. Running a hand through his disheveled hair, he stood frozen in his spot on the rug in thought, simply watching the flame of the candle flicker with the slight breeze in the estate. He was coherent enough to feel the need to check on Korra. He already had an inkling she was asleep, but from the conversation he had with Noatak and the tiniest shift in her behavior had him itching to make sure she was all right.

 

It was subtle, but it was enough of a change for only him to notice. Climbing the marble stairs and stopping before her closed door, he grasped onto the cold metal and opened it with a creak.

 

Just as he suspected, she was asleep. Despite the room immersed in the darkness, he could faintly see Naga’s outline occupying the other half of the mattress as she laid on her side. He inched forward, quietly padding to Korra’s side of the bed and noticed Naga perk up at the sound of movement. Her fluffy tail wagged as he gazed down at the young woman in a deep slumber. As much as he hated the apprehension knotting in his stomach, the light of the moon shone through her curtains and it only emphasized the tears still freshly settling on her cheeks, seeping into her pillow.

 

He knew it was naive of him to think she was getting better since the last time he witnessed her like this. Well, rather heard her crying, that is. It broke something in him then, and that hadn’t changed. With her boisterous laughter and obscene jokes to her bold advances he ventured to guess she was adapting well to her new life. But even an intelligent politician like him could be wrong. He of all people could understand that much.

 

He perched himself on the remaining space of her mattress, the pup edging to his side and curling into a white ball as Korra instantly woke to the added pressure on her bed.

 

With one hand landing in Naga’s soft fur and the other stroking the stray strands of hair on her forehead away, Korra’s bleary eyes cracked open. As her glimmering blue eyes adjusted to the darkness, he watched her shift under the covers. He wasn’t expecting to be cuddled against, but he wasn’t opposed to it either way. She awkwardly positioned herself to curl around him, her head lying on his lap as she snuggled into his side as if seeking his warmth.

 

“You’re home.” She croaked, although it was barely audible to his ears. He watched her with a softened gaze when she nuzzled into his thigh, closing her vivid eyes. It was endearing to see her like this, but he wasn’t completely lured into her charm by the way he heard a sniffle coming from the young woman.

 

“Good observation.” He murmured, allowing the tiniest of smirks to curve the corner of his lips. Considering this was Korra, he was expecting a snort or some snarky comeback, or even an innuendo that she could impressively conjure up from thin air. Instead, there was nothing. Just the deafening silence growing heavier and heavier between them. The unspoken words hung between them and it was only a matter of time before one of them broke it. Cautiously weaving his long fingers through her soft locks, Tarrlok clenched his jaw, unsure if he should approach the topic. But it was Noatak’s words and the thought that ran in circles that prompted him to give in. “I know this seems frivolous to ask, but are you okay?” He asked, his voice coming out soft for once rather than the usual condescending tone.

 

Cracking open her eyes once more, she glanced at him. There was something indecipherable glimmering in her eyes before she uttered, “Never better.”

 

He knew her by now. She was obviously hiding something from him, and it evidently was hurting her emotionally and maybe even physically, but he didn’t want to coerce her. He wanted her to come to him when she was ready.

 

Tarrlok stroked her soft hair with the slightest scrape of his nails against her scalp. Almost immediately, the tiniest of adorable smiles quirked her lips. But just as it appeared, it was gone. “I’m here if you want to talk.” He said, cupping the side of her face tenderly.

 

If the sudden stiffening of her shoulders were any indication, he must have said something wrong… or right. He wasn’t completely sure, but there was the undeniable wrenching of his heart at the quick shift in her expression. Her eyes tore away from his in search of something other than him. The knot in the pit of his stomach returned when he caught sight of the tears welling up in her beautiful eyes before those brows scrunched together as if she were trying to hold in her emotions. “I miss them so much.” She murmured, her voice wavering as it caught in her throat.

 

Before he could form a response, Korra cuddled even further into him, her face hidden and body trembling as she clutched at his shirt and began to sob against him. He felt clueless as to what to do next. He never had to comfort a distressed teenager before, but even as his mind scattered and his stomach churned in apprehension, Tarrlok allowed his hand to skim the column of her spine in what he hoped was a soothing touch.

 

He didn’t know why this affected him more than it should. Maybe it was because they were similar to one another, that they truly didn’t have anyone besides each other to confide in. Noatak was barely any help and even though he had taken her under his sheltered wing for almost two months now, he knew that she really only trusted him and Naga. Or maybe it was because the feeling of her tremors against his side was doing nothing but emphasizing his failure as a father figure. He couldn’t decide, but he had to close stinging eyes before the sight alone broke him into a million pieces - more than it already had.

 

He should have paid more attention to her rather than get distracted at every opportunity to see her as a woman. Spirits, his father must be rolling in his grave. Even now, when his own father was buried six feet beneath the ground, he felt the persistence of his shadow following him. He clenched his jaw. No. He wouldn’t let that happen.

 

Unconsciously, he traced gentle patterns against her back, similar to the way his mother would to him in his childhood. The only sound that broke the heavy silence was her cries as they got caught in her throat and her harsh sniffles. He didn’t know how long he sat there, soothingly rubbing her back while she poured out raw emotions, but he knew that seeing her like this rather than hearing it muffled by their wall was a lot harder on his heart than he thought.

 

All those times his father called him ‘soft’ came flooding back. Insults hissed in disgust, then the following strike to his cheek. Squeezing his eyes shut, Tarrlok swallowed over the lump in his throat as he listened to her pain and grief. Not now. There was a time and place for that, and it evidently was not now. Korra needed him as a father. Not someone to validate her feelings with his own misfortunes when he was her age. But despite her weeping against him, he couldn’t bring himself to speak, in fear that he’d say something foolish or insensitive.

 

As her tears seeped into his trousers and her sobs dissipated into harsh gasps, he threaded his fingers into her hair once again.

 

At his comforting touch, she slowly glanced up at him as if afraid to show him her vulnerable state. With her swollen and reddened eyes, wet cheeks and a runny nose, Tarrlok couldn’t stop himself from allowing the pad of his thumb to gently wipe away her tears. It was uncharacteristically gentle, even in his opinion, but he didn’t want to hurt her.

 

He’s not his father.

 

As he stroked her cheeks, he could feel her curious gaze on him. It took a substantial amount of willpower to resist a glance into her glimmering cerulean eyes. If he did, he knew he wouldn’t be able to stop himself from drowning in those crestfallen yet captivating depths. When he wiped away the last of her tears, he inadvertently met her gaze. There was a spark. There was something akin to tenderness and affection intermingled with the genuine curiosity that had him taking a careful, deep breath in.

 

Before he could do anything more, she propped herself on one hand. They lapse into silence once more except for the occasional snot-filled sniffle. He could practically see the line rapidly nearing, as though he overstayed his visit in his own home. Clearing his throat, he cupped the side of her face and brought her close, pressing a featherlight kiss to her forehead. “You should get some sleep,” he suggested awkwardly, already making his move to leave her room.

 

But that evidently wasn’t what she wanted.

 

“Stay,” she blurted, hastily grasping his hand in her smaller one that promptly made him glance into her dejected eyes rapidly tearing up once more. “Please.” She pleaded softly.

 

Korra was waiting for his answer, and when he made no move or sound in yielding, she squeezed his hand in a silent plea.

 

As much as he should have said no - the invisible boundary a mere centimeter from being crossed - Tarrlok couldn’t resist her. He never could resist her. He knew it was a bad idea, especially considering how far they’ve taken their blatant flirting, but there was no trace of playfulness in her at the moment. He was grateful for that small mercy, but just from having her trembling from the tears that spilled from her eyes just moments ago did not make the situation any easier.

 

But she needed him as a father.

 

Nodding, he conceded with some trepidation. She shifted underneath the covers to make just enough room for him and when he slipped into the warm spot on her mattress she had occupied, he was promptly reminded of the first day she arrived. Spirits, even then he felt the vague trepidation settling in his nerves, but now, this was different. Or at least he thought it was different.

 

He was pulled out of his reverie when he felt her wrap an arm around his middle, her bare legs intertwining with his as she warmed his side tenderly. Without thinking, Tarrlok let his hand settle on the harsh curve of her waist, his thumb drawing soft circles on the tiniest bit of exposed skin from her shirt that road up.

 

“Tell me a story. I don’t want to think.” She said inaudibly as she laid her head of his chest, right above his heart. How she could easily cuddle against him like a lover was beyond him, but he wasn’t complaining. Some sick portion of his mind still reveled in the affection she was showing him, but this wasn’t the time to think of her in that way. Nor should it ever be.

 

Absently staring at their reflection in the mirror across from them, Tarrlok acquiesced to her request. He spoke of a love story he heard from his mother. The daughter of an emperor and the son of another between two divided nations. The two nations had been unified for centuries until a time where power drove one to insanity. The son was discarded and abused his whole life, but it wasn’t until he met the daughter of his supposed enemy did he understand the meaning of love and to be loved.

 

As his mother told the story, and even as he was now, the tale always resonated with him. Whether it was because he was in denial of his abuse when he was a child and now as he had come to accept it or it was merely the fact of a forbidden romance, Tarrlok felt the need to pass this simple yet intriguing story of the two lovers on to Korra.

 

Soon after he began the story, he felt the remaining tremors in her body gradually stop as she relaxed against his side. Though her breathing evened out, his thumb didn’t cease it’s soothing touch on her waist as he was lost in thought.

 

Glancing at the young woman in his arms, Tarrlok gently rested his chin atop her head. The silence was heavy and foreboding. And despite having Korra cuddled against his side, he was left alone to his own thoughts. It was times like these that he relished the idea of some alcohol to numb his mind, but he’d been doing exactly that throughout the evening and he didn’t want to disturb her now that she was in a state of peace.

 

Tarrlok was at a loss. He truly didn’t know how to handle this situation. How she was coping was clearly not working, and judging by the still unopened bottle of pills resting on her bedside table, this only further proved his point. Although he knew there were better ways he could help her, he couldn’t judge her with how she was coping, considering he found solace in the intoxicating combination of cigarettes and alcohol. He hardly would considered that as healthy. But he hated seeing her like this. He needed to do something about it because she evidently wouldn’t do it herself.

 

He couldn’t keep this going. Whatever he’d done to her in the past weeks, whatever their unspoken game entailed, it all needed to stop. Maybe Noatak was right. She needed a father figure, not someone like himself tying her down in this taboo attraction of sorts. Sighing to himself, Tarrlok finally closed his exhausted eyes and decided to join her in undisturbed sleep.

Chapter Text

 

When Korra woke up the next morning, there was nothing but empty feelings and disorientation. Her mind was finally numb and worn down from the tears the night before, she didn’t know what to make of the morning after. The usual exhaustion vanished, as did the residual headaches. Bleary eyes cracked open to squint around the room in her groggy state. She was expecting to find Tarrlok pressed to her front, warming her body from the cold that seeped through the cracks of the doors. Instead, she was met with the faint warmth on the spot he occupied.

 

Turning over onto her back with a yawn, she stretched her limbs, some joints popping heavenly in the process. Immediately, something out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. There was a plate placed with delicious looking crepes, a refreshing glass of water, a note tucked under the edge of the dish, and a vase filled with white orchids.

 

Wow.

 

Korra felt a flush rush to her cheeks. As much as she was flattered with the display, Tarrlok made it seem like she was dying.

 

But suddenly she realized something. It wasn’t the weekend. A small part of her began to panic that Tarrlok maybe forgot to wake her when she saw the sun was steadily rising up the cloudy sky and checked the time. Spirits, it was nearly eight. She was already late for school.

 

Hastily sitting up in her bed, Korra pulled the note out from it’s tucked place and read his charming penmanship.

 

Take the day off today. It will get better in due time.

 

Love, Tarrlok

 

Instantly, her body relaxed. She slumped in her spot on the bed and ran a hand through her mussed hair. At least she didn’t get ready before reading the note lest she would groan at the wasted energy. When she thought about it, it didn’t seem like Tarrlok to let her skip school for the day. She pretended to act sick a few times in the past weeks she’d been living here, in hopes he would allow her, but that inevitably failed. She guessed it was because he was trained to detect any deception, and in turn, use that deception for his own benefit. Sighing, she glanced at the plate of food and the flowers sitting daintily on the table.

 

It was an endearing touch. There was no mistaking that. But something was nagging at her brain that this wasn’t just an act of sympathy, considering he went out of his way to make her breakfast - which wasn’t unusual - and cut fresh flowers from his surprisingly still thriving garden despite the change in seasons. Though Korra wasn’t complaining in the least, she loved orchids.

 


 

It had been a few days and they noticed something shift in Korra. First of all, she either stabbed at her food during lunch, or she stared off into space with a blank look on her face. There was no in between. And second of all, she barely paid any attention to anything around her. Whether it was lecture or any conversation, it was all met with a blank expression.

 

Mako, Bolin, and Asami would secretly glance at one another just to see if they were noticing the same thing. It wasn’t abnormal for her not to say anything or to stay silent from time to time, but that typically didn’t last this long. He knew she didn’t go to school a few days ago and she, so far, had remained soundless since then.

 

Asami and Bolin decided to leave her alone, to not press that matter forward, but Mako couldn’t remain unfazed by her silence. All four of them stood at the front entrance to the school, waiting for Korra’s dad to pick her up, as Bolin told some pointless story about his anatomy class. Mako tapped at his bicep in thought as his arms were folded across his chest. What if something was going on at her home? Should he talk to her dad about it? Wait, did he already know? What if he didn’t?

 

Maybe he should ask him about it when he came to pick her up.

 

He glanced at her from the corner of his eyes. Just as she’d been doing for the past few days, she’s avoiding them, watching the cars pass by with that indifferent expression on her face. Though Mako couldn’t decide whether she was lost in her own thoughts or blatantly avoiding them. Taking a deep breath in, Mako grasped her wrist and tugged her aside, evading Bolin’s sputters.

 

“Hey! Let me go!” Korra shot, easily wrenching her wrist from his grip. “What the hell was that for?” She asked, her voice trying to return to its normal volume as she rubbed at the wrist he grabbed.

 

Mako sighed, scratching at the side of his head. “I just- I need to talk to you.” He stuttered. It was unusual for him to get so nervous around her, but he didn’t know how to approach her when she was watching him so expectantly and she was clearly in a bad mood. Well, that wasn’t uncommon for her whenever she was talking to him. Regardless, he’d never been alone with her like this and to say it put his nerves on edge were an understatement. “... Korra, are you… okay?” He asked carefully.

 

Narrowing her blue eyes as if this were some joke, she tilted her head to the side and watched him with an inquisitive yet accusing eye that made him stand restless under her gaze. “Since when did you care?” She retorted with a slight sting.

 

“Just answer the question.” He shot back impatiently.

 

Sighing exaggeratedly as though the life were being sucked out of her just from this conversation, Korra crossed her arms over her chest and shifted her weight from one foot to the other. “Yeah. Why’d you ask?” She prodded.

 

“I… No reason.” He said simply. He didn’t want to upset her further. But that only resulted in her rolling her eyes skyward before stalking off to Bolin and Asami once again, leaving him to stand there with a worried gaze. Despite how he’s been acting around her, he doesn’t want to see her hurt.

 


 

Tarrlok didn’t know what to make of this. One of Korra’s friends jogged up to his car and knocked on the window as to get his attention. Spirits, he hoped the boy didn’t leave his grubby handprints all over the glass. He glanced at the boy in curiosity and rolled down the window.

 

“Um, excuse me, sir.” The boy said tentatively, wringing his hands nervously.

 

Tarrlok tried to recall who exactly the boy was. He knew Korra told him stories about her day when he picked her up - not recently since her change in behavior - and most of the time she rambled, but he did listen to her nonetheless. Was this Bolin or Mako? Hmm… Korra did say Bolin had green eyes while the other had golden ones.

 

“Yes… Mako, is it?” He asked as Mako stood straighter under his intense scrutiny. Tarrlok nearly let out a chuckle at the boy’s stiff posture. This was definitely not the same Mako Korra told him about.

 

The boy nodded curtly. “Yes, sir. Can I talk to you?” He asked with worried eyes. When Tarrlok remained in his seat, a hand resting on the steering wheel and made no intention of moving, Mako scratched at the side of his head before pulling the scarf around his neck up towards his mouth in a way that his voice was muffled. The boy’s mannerisms were ill-fitted at best, but he had no place to judge the teenager, considering what had been happening behind closed doors and away from prying eyes. “It’ll only take a moment.” He added.

 

Tarrlok glanced away from the boy and out the passenger’s window. She was hugging Miss Sato and the other brother goodbye before she swung her backpack on. “Sure,” he agreed. Hopefully, this didn’t last long since the boy looked as though he didn’t want Korra to hear. “What is it?” He questioned, leaning back into his seat.

 

His eyes flicked from Tarrlok’s to Korra’s slowly approaching figure and back to him once again. “Is everything okay with Korra at home? I-I don’t mean to be so nosy, I just want to make sure she’s all right.” Mako said hastily, his voice lowering.

 

As if glass were shattering, Tarrlok knew what was going on.

 

Why he didn't consider this was foolish of him. A failure on his part. This just proved how consumed he was, as well as Korra, in their taboo relations. Something possessive in him made his eyes narrow the tiniest bit before he sat a little straighter, and fortunately went undetected by Mako. The twinkle in the boy’s golden eyes were exactly what he held for Korra. Besides the undeniable concern, affection was laced within those naive eyes of the boy. “Of course, everything is fine.” He easily lied with a diplomatic smile.

 

Evidently relieved with the answer, Mako’s shoulders slumped forward as a sigh escaped him. Just as Tarrlok thought, the boy was gullible enough to believe such a asinine lie.

 

He nodded, taking in the false information like a sponge. “Okay, that’s good. Thank you, sir. Have a good day.” He said awkwardly, leaving Tarrlok to return to their friends just as Korra opened the car door on her side.

 

He tapped at the steering wheel in thought before he shifted the gears and returned to the estate in noiselessness.

 

—-

 

Just as expected, she barely let out a peep. All throughout the drive home to the time she helped him chop some vegetables to dinner for just the two of them, it was complete silence. The only sound came from the heavy rain and the faint rumblings of thunder off into the distance. A few days ago he’d relish the idea of a peaceful, silent evening, but this wasn’t what he meant. It was dreary and unnatural, a far cry from the usual nights they spent together before Noatak moved in. Fortunately for them, Noatak had been gone for the past handful of days, but it hardly made a difference in both of their sour and dejected moods.

 

She made an effort to deliberately avoid his gaze, staring at his chin or any object behind him as he tried to make any form of a conversation with her. She focused her attention on Naga patiently curled at their feet underneath the table. She picked at her food, nibbling on a few morsels before playing with the noodles carelessly.

 

Whatever paternal portion of his brain was left was immediately put into motion as he watched this childish part of Korra show itself. He didn’t know how he could reach out to her, how to help her if she was acting this way.

 

Don’t play with your food, Korra. He’d say as calmly as possible. Sit up straight, slouching is unbecoming for a young woman your age.

 

Everything he said was met with nothing but avoided eye contact and silence. He was trying to reel in his patience from her half hearted attempts to appease him. But he repeatedly had to remind himself that there was no reason for him to get irritated at her, that he couldn’t get mad at her. From what he could recall from his teenage years, nobody needed that in a time of distress. If he showed her any hostility, she’d revert into her shell - more than she already had - and he would be back to square one after all the progress they’ve made together.

 

But now as they shared the sofa - Korra lying on her side as she watched a movie and rubbed Naga’s belly while he absentmindedly massaged her ankle and finished the last of his work - the thought was eating at his mind. Tarrlok knew the conversation was inevitable. There was no way around the conversation and that only set his nerves in unease. The longer he waited to tell her the harder it would be for her to accept the new change.

 

Signing his name on the last page of the documents, he placed the paper on the finished stack and leaned back in his seat with a sigh. He sat there simply watching the movie along with her, though his mind was elsewhere as he massaged her ankle for a few long minutes before he gave her a gentle squeeze.

 

She didn’t break her gaze from the film playing and a small portion of him wanted go with the deliberate sidestepping. He wanted to drop the subject completely and continue on with their lives without thinking of such misfortunes.

 

Spirits, how she managed to make him so apprehensive was beyond him. He spent hours debating with important officials, hours schmoozing up to them yet this mere seventeen-year-old soon to be eighteen was his downfall. He felt idiotic contemplating whether to bring the subject up or not. But once again, it was Noatak’s voice in his mind that pushed him forward.

 

Tarrlok took a deep breath in and decided it’s now or never. “Korra,” he said, looking at her expectantly.

 

Her crestfallen eyes glanced at him and immediately he felt her tense. He knew she knew what he was thinking about, but with the way she was looking at him, she wanted no part in confiding with him tonight. “I don’t want to talk about it.” She grumbled weakly, pulling her ankle from his lap to curl herself into a feeble ball on the other side of the couch.

 

He couldn’t say he wasn’t unfazed by her behavior. He’d be lying in that case. But something in him, maybe it was the politician or the boy in him that was trained to hide such emotions though he wasn’t completely sure, tried to remain unaffected by the rejection. Running a hand through his hair, he grasped the remote on the table and muted the volume, draping them in the static sound of rain. “Look, I don’t want to be that kind of father, but it has come to my attention that you’re way of coping hasn’t been sufficient. I searched for a therapist and I made you an appointment with her in a few days.” He stated slowly. Tarrlok knew he may have came off a little cold, but he didn’t want her to run away from what was going on.

 

Sitting up, Korra watched him as though he wounded her. Despite the confusion that she brought him, he didn’t dare voice it under her intense scrutiny. Her brows pinched together in genuine bewilderment and pain, her eyes beginning to glisten under the dim light. Tarrlok had to look away from her. The sight alone pained him.

 

“Why?” She asked simply, almost inaudibly.

 

He swallowed over the lump in his throat. He already knew this wasn’t going to end well. “With the way you’ve been behaving, you're getting worse.” He said, leaning forward to prop his elbows on his knees and rub his face exhaustedly.

 

Tarrlok was expecting the tears, but not the rage. And within a matter of seconds, the two mixed together.

 

Korra hastily stood from her seated spot, whirling on him with cerulean eyes blazing with her rising ire and tears threatening to spill that he very nearly reached for the pillow at his side to ward off any attempts of hers to injure him. “You’re sitting there telling me that I’m getting worse? How the hell would you know? You don’t know me! You’re not even my real dad!” She shouted, evidently uncaring that Naga hunched away from the two of them in favor of the empty sofa in fear.

 

Clenching his jaw, he tried to remain unfazed, though he had to admit even to himself that her jibe wounded him. He knew he was slipping. “Korra, please just listen-“ He began.

 

But almost immediately his attempt to calm her down was shot down with a harsh wave of her hand.

 

“No, you listen. I’m not some piece of glass that could break at any moment.” Korra growled, her eyes glimmering with unshed tears. It did little to dampen her fury, though it did make his chest ache to see her like this. “I’ve dealt with too much in my life for people like you to think I need help from some stupid therapist that most likely won’t do shit besides sit there and nod and-and look like they know what I’m going through. Because they don’t. They won’t ever know. I can handle myself just fine without them. Sure it’s only been, what, five years and I’ve surprisingly came this far without doing something stupid to myself and without the help of others.” She stumbled hastily through her words. “I’m stronger than you think.” She added weakly, more to herself than to the man in front of her. Though her words reminded him of his mother.

 

Not now. Tarrlok closed rubbed at his tired eyes.

 

“I never said you’re not strong. You’re twisting my words, Korra,” he said, and he wasn’t quite able to keep the irritation from creeping in.

 

She nodded slowly. “Okay, how?” She asked, her voice wavering.

 

“I-“ He began.

 

But just before he could say anything more, a tear slipped free, running down the unblemished curve of her cheek, and even now when she was clearly furious and wounded by him he wanted to wipe it away. He wanted to comfort her like he did those few nights ago. Not like this. His hand fisted at his side in an attempt to quell the need to go to her.

 

She must’ve took his silence the wrong way if the sudden stiffening to her shoulders was any indication, simply uttering, “Exactly.”

 

The tears that had been clinging stubbornly to her lashes finally broke free in full force. She ducked her head, but not before he saw the raw, aching pain in her glimmering eyes. Without realizing it, Tarrlok stood from his spot and began to reach for her - just as she turned and hurried for the stairs.

 

“Korra,” he called softly, his heart lurching heavily in his chest. “Korra, hold on a second.” He spoke up, following her in her tracks with Naga at his side, though he immediately stopped short when he saw the look on her face.

 

“Leave me alone!” She shouted as she stumbled up the steps before slamming her door shut with a rattle.

 

He went rigid at her words. He knew they were bound to fight one another. He also knew that words they didn’t truly mean would be spewed out in the rage and pain, but her words felt too genuine that he couldn't help but to compare himself to his own father. He really wasn’t that much different from him. He hurt someone important to him, made them weep, unintentionally or not it didn’t matter. That alone had him squeezing his tired eyes, rubbing at them and perching himself at the edge of the coffee table as Naga timidly offered some consolation to the sheer gravity of the situation.

 

Distractedly running his hand through the pup’s soft fur, Tarrlok decided to wait a few minutes for her to calm down before he checked up on her. He didn’t want things to go even more sour for them despite what had just transpired.

 

—-

 

When he opened her door, he was met with Korra hugging her legs, her chin resting on her knees as she stared at the edge of her mattress miserably. She appeared exhausted, drained, as though she wanted to be someone else for a while, though he understood that feeling well.

 

He was reluctant to approach her. If she still held the amount of anger in her he was prepared to dodge objects thrown his way. Instead, she sat there, looking like a lost child who wanted the love and reassurance only parents could give their daughter.

 

At this point, he knew it was more than the mere fact that he tried to help her, that there was something more that was making the tears spill from her beautiful eyes. He tentatively sat beside her, watching her with a sidelong glance for any indication that she’d flee. And yet, there was nothing. As if she didn’t even notice his presence. Tarrlok took that as a good sign… or maybe not.. and took a deep breath in.

 

Abruptly, she released her legs in favor of wrapping her arms around his waist, her face nuzzling the side of his neck. He tensed at the contact and almost instantly relaxed into her warmth at her change of heart. He didn’t expect it, but he wasn’t opposed to it either. Before he could open his mouth to apologize, she beat him to it and snuggled into him.

 

“I’m sorry,” she murmured, her voice muffled though he could hear the docile tone clearly, maybe even broken at the weight of what has been eating at her. At her apology, Tarrlok wrapped his arm around her, his hand settling delicately on her waist.

 

He propped his chin on top of her head, softly stirring her mussed hair as he let out a slow sigh, staring at the dull walls left untouched since he prepared for her arrival. He didn’t know why that bothered him, that he never truly looked around her room and realized how bare it was from her personal touch. Maybe he was wrong that she was finding comfort in her new life.

 

“There’s no reason to say you’re sorry. If anything, I should be the one apologizing.” He insisted, his thumb unconsciously tracing circular patterns over her shirt.

 

He felt her shake her head. “No, it should be me. I was the one that blew up on you and I… I just hate being seen as weak. Ever since I became an orphan all people did was look at me with pity. I hate it.” She spoke up, her voice wavering in the slightest from what he presumed was her thinking back to her time in the orphanage.

 

Though he didn’t experience being an orphan, he understood on some level the amount of hatred she held for those pitying looks people can give when they hear a minute detail of someone’s tragic past. He didn’t receive it from strangers, rather from Noatak.

 

“That wasn’t my intention. I was just trying to help, although I do understand where you’re coming from.” He responded softly, genuinely. It felt odd - maybe even a little too foreign - to be so frank with someone other than his brother.

 

He had been genuine to Noatak, but even then he held back from revealing too much. He had been so careful as to not reveal any bit of information or emotion to the city, to co workers, to past lovers in fear of what they might have thought of him.

 

No.

 

He had to be Councilman Tarrlok, a handsome bachelor with a near perfect past that had him elected onto the council so early in his life. Tarrlok gritted his teeth. Maybe it was due to the fact that he’d hidden and controlled every tedious movement and thought throughout his life that this was all too strange and new to him. He could feel those indestructible walls that he built over the decades slowly crumbling down, that invisible boundary he already crossed those few days ago nearing once again.

 

But he ignored it. She needed him.

 

“You’re just saying that to make me feel better.” Korra mumbled in evident doubt, though the soft sniffle he heard nearly pulled him back to reality.

 

It was Tarrlok’s turn to shake his head. If she only knew. “No, when I was about your age or maybe a year older, Noatak forced me to visit a therapist with him. It worked for him, but it didn’t with me.” He sighed. The memory was something in the long list of experiences he wasn’t particularly fond of. His therapist at the time did exactly what Korra had described - granted, he barely said a word to her - and he felt as though the time he spent in that dull room filled with paintings of feigned tranquility and calm voices with Noatak were futile. “I only inquired about it because I know everyone has their own way of coping and I thought that if it worked for Noatak it might’ve worked for you.” He added.

 

When they lapse into silence, Tarrlok thought that he should have been more patient with her. That he shouldn’t have felt the irritation creeping in his voice when he tried to reach out to her. And when he felt the warm tears lightly drop onto his skin, then slowly seep into his shirt, he nearly kicked himself for tarnishing their bond together, for failing once again as a father figure.

 

“I’m sorry,” she repeated through her sniffles, continuing before he could stop her again. “I’m sorry for saying all that stuff.”

 

He hushed her then. “There’s no need to say sorry.” Tarrlok said quietly, glancing at her as he lifted her chin for her to face him. Those beautiful cerulean eyes that watched him with grief were bloodshot, filled with tears uncontrollably spilling down her cheeks, and brows that pinched together dolefully. He was lost in her dejected face, his heart wrenching at the sight, but immediately caught himself and continued. “And just because I’m not your real father, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be willing to try to be, or to help you get better.” He drawled, gently wiping the tears away with the pad of his thumb.

 

Despite his eyes fixated over her glistening cheeks, Tarrlok could feel her curious gaze on him. But similar to the night he spent in her room, as soon as it appeared, it was gone. She sniffed sharply, breaking his gaze and jerked from the gentle contact for she quickly finished cleaning herself off with the swipe of her forearm, though the tears only slightly waned. “Thanks,” she mumbled timidly, but he caught a glimpse of the tiniest flash of color heat her cheeks. Before he could say anything more Korra filled the silence with a harsh poke to his side. “But promise me that you won’t make me go to see a therapist. I hate the thought of it.”

 

The corner of his lips quirked upward. “I promise.” He responded with a tender peck of his lips to her forehead, heedlessly pulling her closer to his side. “If you need to talk, I’m here.” He not-so-subtly suggested, though he had an inkling it wouldn’t get anywhere. Just as he had always thought, he didn’t want to force her to confide in him. The time that she would be ready to divulge that part of her life was for her to decide, not him.

 

And when they lapse into the heavy silence once again, Tarrlok took that as an indicator that she wasn’t ready. He was expecting the tears even though she swiped at them harshly as though she wanted them to stop. He was expecting her not to respond to him just like the night those few days ago.

 

What he wasn’t expecting was the fact that she laid her head down on his shoulder and plucked at the fabric of his shirt in thought.

 

The hand that cradled her waist released in favor of running his long fingers through her hair, gently brushing out the tangles as though she were a piece of glass. He didn’t think of her as weak, but he didn’t want to hurt her. Not when the image of his mother was forever burned into his mind.

 

And besides, this was Korra he was talking about. She’s more than capable of defending herself - weak was nowhere near the word he’d ever label her as.

 

He was lost in his own thoughts that he barely caught her words. “It’s almost their anniversary.” She admitted, fiddling with the fabric of his shirt. Korra didn’t say anything more, simply staring off onto the rug with a far-away look glazing her still tear-filled eyes as he practically saw the wheels turning in her mind. There was more she wanted to say judging by the depth he saw in her eyes, but he didn’t want to push her. Tarrlok slowed his stroking fingers. And somehow that lethargic, gentle threading of his fingers through her soft strands pulled her out of her reverie. “...Their wedding and death anniversary…” She elaborated cautiously, as though she were waiting for a reaction out of him.

 

Even though she appeared to prepare herself for such musings, she clearly had some reservations. He was curious, but he remained silent, patiently waiting for her to make the first move. With how quiet it was throughout the estate - it was only Korra, Naga, and him occupying it, in any case - the thunder began rumbling louder, the rain growing heavier as the pending storm came closer and closer towards the city.

 

Tarrlok felt her tense to the rumbling sound, albeit very slightly that he brushed it off and resolutely trailed his hand back to her waist.

 

With a sharp inhale, Korra appeared to have gathered enough confidence and wiped at the unshed tears in her eyes before relaxing against his side once again. “It happened almost exactly five years ago,” she said slowly, softly. As if she were trying to pick the right words to make her memory as coherent as possible. “It was a rainy day like today and I remember a heavy storm was coming towards our town which was only a few cities behind the mountains. I was twelve and was completely selfish. My mom and dad planned to go out for dinner in the city for a while at a restaurant called… Qua- Quo..?” She tried to recall as he closed his eyes and listened.

 

Tarrlok knew the restaurant she was implying well, considering he took past lovers to the high-end establishment before. It was quite a pretentious place, people often ate at the restaurant just to say they were allowed in. Though he did have to give the owner credit due to the fact that the food was impeccably prepared - at least, from what he could recall.

 

“Quong’s cuisine.” He corrected quietly.

 

She nodded faintly, the movement and warmth of her body pressed against his apparently comforting her. “Yeah. That place. They planned it probably months in advance, but who knows. At the time I was young enough that I didn’t care.” She said with a half-hearted shrug.

 

She took a moment to gather her thoughts as they were immersed in the calming sound of pouring rain tapping against the windows. Tarrlok took a wary sidelong glance at Korra to make sure she was okay. But then he realized that that was foolish of him. From what they’re talking about, it was far from okay.

 

Chewing at her lip, she fidgeted with the material of his shirt distractedly, though Tarrlok was all too aware of the small movements. “I’ve always wanted to go to Republic City because I thought there was something special for me there… The tall buildings, the lights, the bustle of city life. I loved the thought of the old mixing with the new. I mean it’s a lot more interesting than where I used to live. Anyway, when my mom was getting ready, I insisted that I go with them. Of course she told me to stay because my babysitter, Katara, was already on her way. I loved Katara, she was like a grandma that I never had. I mean I did have a grandma, but like her, the rest of my family died before I was born so I never got to meet them… I never heard the story with what happened to them, my mom really tried to avoid the topic as much as possible.” She mumbled with the faint traces of confusion coloring her quiet voice. “Either way, I insisted. And I knew I was getting on her nerves and was the little brat I knew I was, but I really wanted to go. Eventually, she let me go with them only if I didn't throw a tantrum.”

 

Tarrlok kept silent, he didn’t want to disrupt her. But when he heard a soft, humorless scoff his hand began to rub her waist up and down soothingly. “I remember being so fascinated by the city life. I remember passing by a temple and not even a few minutes away was Harmony Tower. At that time, I already fell in love with Republic City because it was so much more compared to the suburbs.” She rambled softly with intrigue.

 

Tarrlok could understand where she was coming from. When he first arrived in the city with Noatak, the culture shock and the captivation certainly overwhelmed him. But the same feelings of fascination coursed through his veins at the mere thought of starting his life over, of finally moving forward in life that could make him into something.

 

Korra let out a soft sigh before continuing her story. “Everything was going smoothly all throughout the drive there and through dinner. But that could only last for so long.”

 

He listened while he glanced down at the young woman cuddled against his side. “It wasn’t until my dad was driving us home and the storm was at its heaviest downpour that I was getting scared. You probably don’t know this, that I hated thunder and lighting so much when I was a kid, sometimes even now, but it’s definitely not as bad as it was before. At times when it was really bad, especially around this time of the year, I’d hide in my closet so I couldn’t see a thing even though I could still hear it.” She recalled as if the memory happened decades ago.

 

Releasing his gentle hold on her waist, Tarrlok couldn’t stop himself from running the tips of his fingers languidly over her arm in what he hoped was a comforting touch as the grumbling thunder met their ears soon after a flash of lightning illuminated them in white. “I know it sounds pathetic and stupid of me to do it, but when my dad was driving us home, I started to throw a tantrum because I was so scared. My mom was trying to calm me down, but I wouldn’t stop. And it wasn’t until my dad tried, that we crashed into the car in front of us.” She said almost too inaudible for him to hear, her voice wavering once again as tears began to well up in her eyes.

 

But he did catch her words and he closed his eyes as he absorbed the information, clenching his jaw when he felt the warm droplets silently fall onto his shoulder. That wasn’t at all what he was expecting. Well, he honestly didn’t know what to expect, but it wasn’t that.

 

A sniffle was heard and almost instantly she nestled against his side tighter. “Within the few seconds he looked at me to calm me down, he didn’t notice the car in front suddenly stop and we crashed into it.”

 

A frown curved his lips and his brows pinched together as he gently laid his cheek against the top of her head, feeling her body shake with each harsh inhale. “My dad instantly died in the crash and my mom was barely holding on to her life.” Korra gasped through her weeping. “I remember a lot of fire… I remember her calling my name and I thought I responded, but I didn’t. By the time the ambulance came, I was the only one that survived the crash and they rushed me to the hospital.” She continued, wiping the snot and the tears away with the back of her hand.

 

From what he could feel, and what he presumed through the lapse of silence, she tried to gather enough of her voice that stuck at the back of her throat, she tried to will herself to calm down. He sat there with her, soothingly rubbing her arm as he waited patiently.

 

Though he hadn’t experienced her exact past, he empathized with her. Losing the last of her family at such an early age surely would change even the strongest of people. But an orphan? He never really looked deeper besides the blatant word, but she truly only had herself. She was all alone.

 

That is, until he met her. He wouldn’t go so far as to think he was what could break those walls of hers, but he was willing to try. Just like Noatak did with him all those years ago.

 

Indeed, he had Noatak, albeit for most of his life. Yet he couldn’t shake the tiniest flicker of warmth through the familiar loneliness.

 

When she found her voice once again, she continued as though she was tired, maybe even exhausted of her tumultuous past continuously holding her back. “I remember they told me of my parents. How they died, how I’d move forward even though I didn’t want to, what it really meant to be completely alone with no family left behind. I don’t think I really understood the meaning of losing them, even when they told me and even at their funeral, until I was in the orphanage.” She let out a shaky sigh. “Ever since then I always felt guilty for what I did, as if their death was because of me.” She added weakly.

 

It was then that he couldn’t keep quiet. The mere thought of Korra feeling such a way for the better part of her teenage years was something that made his jaw clench and heart ache. And once he caught a glimpse of the shame and self-reproach in that frown curving her lips, he couldn’t help himself from breaking the heavy silence between them. “No one’s at fault, Korra. Least of all you.” He reassured her, pressing a gentle kiss to her forehead, though he wasn’t sure if she believed him. He wouldn’t be surprised, considering she’d been feeling the pang of guilt following her every step since the crash.

 

She didn’t say anything more, but the heavy silence was enough of an answer for him. It was then that he realized that all those nights he heard her sobs and sniffles muffled by the wall separating their respective rooms were all due to this. The guilt of their deaths and the longing of her true parents’ love and companionship beside her.

 

Tarrlok absently stared out the window with streaming raindrops as the storm worsened.

 

He was at a loss. He didn’t want to say something foolish or something that could be considered offensive. The last thing he wants is to be the reason behind those tears. But with the occasional sniffles from the young woman against him, Tarrlok began accepting his fate with this night full of confessions. Whether it would have some sort of consolation on her part or if it’d ameliorate his own desolation was beyond him. But even he had to admit, rather anxiously, that it was about time he got it off his own chest. After nearly thirty years of hiding his past from everyone, he couldn’t hide it from Korra.

 


 

Everything went quiet. The rain lightening up for a few moments before returning to its powerful downpour.

 

Korra couldn’t believe she said all of that. Whether he viewed her differently or not, it didn’t matter now. The truth was finally out in the open and despite the residual tears blurring her vision, she felt the most exhaustion she’d experienced in a long while. She closed her stinging eyes and tried to focus on Tarrlok’s tranquilizing touch before relaxing against his side, inadvertently snuggling closer to him.

 

She’s lost in his warmth, lost in his admittedly comforting scent, lost in the sheer exhaustion of her weeping that she just wanted it all to stop. She didn’t know how else she could phrase it, but she wanted to stop thinking. To stop the feeling of guilt and worthlessness and everything else she was because she couldn’t even look Tarrlok in the eye without feeling herself break into a million pieces.

 

Although the tears stopped shedding, she still felt the lingering tremors coursing through her body. Korra tried to focus on his presence, that him physically being here beside her was the only thing keeping her grounded. Cracking open her swollen eyes, she released her hold on his shirt and reached out for his free hand lying limply in his lap.

 

The mere touch got him to flinch, unintentionally pulling him out of the daze he apparently was in - and with one glance up at the man, he appeared to be in deep thought, though his eyes glazed over distractedly. Korra glanced back down at her hand and reached for his larger one again.

 

The pads of her fingers skimmed the length of his own in slight fascination. She didn’t know why she was touching him this way. It felt something akin to those of lovers. It was the lightest of touches yet she still felt sparks spreading underneath her skin. When she grazed the back of his hand, feeling his veins as though she were in a dreamlike state, he responded to her touch all too delicately.

 

It was gentle. Maybe even too uncharacteristically gentle. Korra didn’t mind in the least though, in a way it was comforting. The single response felt as though he understood the mess of her life as if it were his own.

 

He did avoid talking about his family, in any case. Maybe he really did know how she felt, but maybe she was grasping at straws in order to make herself feel better.

 

Easily clasping her small hand in his, Tarrlok stroked her soft skin with the pad of his thumb in absent patterns. If she wasn’t feeling the weight of guilt and loneliness she could’ve fallen asleep in that moment. The rain and his touch calmed her trembling body yet the storm that passed through the city vaguely resembled her emotions.

 

Korra stared at their clasped hands in content. Even if there was the residual guilt, she wasn’t alone. Not anymore, at least.

 

She nearly closed her eyes once again, hoping just for a moment that she could immerse herself in the silence, in the deafening rain, and numb her senses, when she heard Tarrlok take a deep breath in. “I was about eight years old when I started to fear my father.” He said simply, his usually smooth and confident voice sounding apprehensive and defeated to her ears. She glanced up at him once more and the same expression of deep thought etched itself on his face. Her heart began to hasten its pace at the realization that he was actually speaking to her about his past. “There was no specific date for these things, but I do recall the years before that were filled with happiness and innocence that it all seems foreign to me even though I lived through it.” He continued with a distant look in his pale blue depths.

 

His thumb sustained its gentle stroking as Korra didn’t dare speak. As much as she was curious she couldn’t bring herself to interrupt him, not when her now hoarse voice was stuck in her throat and he appeared to be contemplating his life. He gave her time to explain and to think, she should too.

 

With the way she was watching him, she saw his eyes drift out the window vacantly. It took a moment before he continued, “My mother was a warm and caring woman. She often used to laugh and smile and joke around. She cared for Noatak and I while our father had an unstable job. But despite that, he provided for us.” He divulged. “It wasn’t until a few months after I turned eight that he lost his job. He searched around for another, and he eventually did find a new job, but that didn’t mean it didn’t take a toll on him.”

 

Korra glanced down at their clasped hands. Whether it was to feel reassurance or something completely beyond her comprehension, she did not know. But she took the information in her already overwrought mind as he spoke, patiently waiting as he paused in his reminiscing. Though she doubted it was anything he wanted to remember.

 

“He turned to alcohol during the time he was unemployed and in his inebriated state, he’d…” He trailed off. And when he didn’t continue, Korra dared a sidelong glance, a peek at the man. His jaw was clenched and his brows pinched together as though the memory was too painful to recall. With a light touch of her thumb against his own, she pulled him out of his thoughts before he mumbled, “He’d get angry.”

 

With whatever distance was left between them, she closed it and adjusted herself comfortably.

 

There was a pause before Tarrlok, with his eyes carefully lowered to their clasped hands on his lap, sighed softly, “I apologize if this all sounds incoherent, I haven’t voiced this to anyone before.”

 

She shook her head dully, her fingers twitching against his. “Don’t worry about it. I haven’t told anyone besides you either.”

 

Again, when he didn’t respond, Korra mimicked his soothing touch and gently stroked the back of his hand with the pad of her thumb, hoping to the spirits that she was as comforting and reassuring to him as he was to her. She bit her lower lip distractedly.

 

Even with her mind and body exhausted with the amount of emotions coursing through her veins she still worried that she wasn’t consoling enough. People in the past had mentioned she was rather difficult to confide in. Whether it be from her aloof attitude when her melancholy spikes or her intimidating presence, Korra couldn’t decide.

 

Tarrlok moved the hand on her waist, his body tensing, unconsciously pulling her tighter against him that almost immediately caught her attention. “He would throw furniture around, he’d hit me and Noatak, and my mother.” He murmured softly. With those words, her gaze shot from their hands to his profile in unease as thunder roared soon after the brief burst of white. Korra flinched while he remained taut against her side. “That happiness and innocence was gone from my family. My mother and I were too afraid of him to say anything, so we stayed quiet in fear that he’d strike us over and over again.” He said before she felt rather than heard a scoff escape the man. “Although, that rarely made a difference.”

 

She had to look away as he paused. Just the thought of a vague image of Tarrlok’s father beating his own family in a drunken rage set Korra’s hand to fist the fabric of his shirt in agitation.

 

Though it happened years ago, long before she could ever prevent such a thing from happening - as though she ever had a say in this situation - she couldn’t shake the feeling of unease and anger and pain that something like that ever happened to the Tarrlok she knew now. It was no wonder that he barely mentioned his family, that he suddenly had gone quiet and his body pulled taut when she merely asked about his mother, or mentioned his past on her first day of living with him.

 

“Noatak on the other hand,” Tarrlok murmured, drawing her out of her thoughts, “He tried to speak for the three of us, even when he too was afraid, but that would only leave him beaten by my father… Ever since we were children Noatak tried to protect us.”

 

Korra closed her eyes and stroked the back of his hand soothingly, the unspoken words she didn’t have the courage to say hung above them. Even in his distant and detached state, she had an inkling he understood judging by the way both of his hands grasped her tighter before picking up where he left off. “Eventually, when he was sober enough to get a job, my mother thought his rage would stop, and so did Noatak and I. She began to smile again. She began to be the mother I used to know before the chaos started. But that was short-lived when my father, even in sobriety, held so much rage in him, that the only way he made it known was through his beatings.

 

“Most of the time we didn’t know what he’d be angry for, but it only escalated when we fought back, when we weren’t obedient enough to do as he told or it wasn’t sufficient enough for him. We tried to appease him just to avoid his beating, but it wasn’t enough for him. From receiving high grades and cooking to building useless possessions that he insisted on making, it wasn’t enough.” He said with the faint traces of confusion coloring his voice before he paused in thought once again.

 

She felt him take a deep breath, letting it out slowly as he unclasped their hands and the other stroked up and down her waist distractedly. It was then that a small part, or rather large part of her - though she couldn’t admit it to herself even if she wanted to - missed his touch.

 

“This lasted years. And one day, when me and Noatak came home from school, we found our mother lying on the kitchen floor dead. She had been stabbed. We both were frozen in shock and heartache, but it was Noatak who recovered first and called the police. I remember trembling from the sight, crying at my mother’s unmoving body.” He mumbled.

 

Korra wasn’t expecting those words, mainly because she didn’t know exactly what to expect. But either way, her breath caught in her throat and her eyes snapped to the man watching the rain dejectedly. As much as they were close now, she couldn’t bare to think of that woman she saw in picture lying lifeless on a tile floor, let alone a teenage Tarrlok crying over her bloodied body. Tears began to blur her vision once more. “I remember feeling so much anger when I saw my father simply sitting in the garden, slowly swaying back and forth on the wooden chair he built, just looking up at the sky like nothing was wrong.” He said, clenching his jaw and glancing down to meet her tear-filled eyes.

 

Just as he saw the tears welling up in her eyes, he looked away. Korra guessed it was because she wasn’t any better than those who looked at her in pity. But she couldn’t help it.

 

From what he told her, he had never said a word about this to anyone - excluding Noatak - and she couldn’t for the life of her figure out how he managed to keep that bottled up in him all those years of overcoming his trauma. She sharply inhaled and let out a shaky breath as she glanced at the door. Part of her wanted to stop him in his tracks, to stop him from continuing his story, yet she couldn’t bring herself to say the words.

 

“I really didn’t know how he could do such a thing to someone he loved, but I realized a person must’ve been so perverse to detach himself in that way. Whatever it was, I desperately wanted him out of my life.” Tarrlok continued as she began to fumble absently with the ring around her finger. “Of course, I thought that in the previous years, but you don’t know how many times I prayed to the spirits that someone come get this horrendous man out of my life. The sight of him always disgusted me, but in that moment I couldn’t fathom his presence anywhere near me.” He spoke up over the intensifying storm.

 

When her eyes drew back to him unconsciously, she caught the slightest glimmer in his eyes. Her heart ached at the sight.

 

Tarrlok seemed like the person to never let his true emotions show so blatantly to someone. Her included. Yet the tears welling in his eyes told her otherwise.

 

He sniffed harshly before running a hand through his loose hair tiredly. “The police came and arrested him. And eventually, we found out that he lost his job once again, taking his anger out on our mother and soon after killed her because of it.” He said, clearly absorbed in the unwanted memory replaying in his mind. “Just like you, all of my family had been deceased since I was too young to remember, or in prison. I can’t necessarily say I’m proud of my family, otherwise I’d be lying.” He let out a humorless chuckle.

 

“Noatak took care of me, taking on multiple jobs after he graduated high school, and he conjured enough money for the both of us to move to Republic City. We lived in a small apartment on the outskirts of the city and he registered me to the school you’re currently going to. We stayed in that small apartment for years, until I myself graduated and moved forward into university and took on jobs to support us as well.” Tarrlok crossed his legs at the ankles, causing Korra to glance at the small movement.

 

“Years later, our father died in prison, but I still felt his presence around me. I tried to do everything in my power to remove myself from my father. I took an interest politics - something he constantly complained about in his fits of rage - I became educated, I graduated at the top of my class, and I became the youngest politician elected on the council. I tried to better myself, to not let my father’s shadow haunt me forever, but even at the most inopportune times I feel myself gradually turning into the monster that he was.” He murmured more to himself rather than her.

 

Korra couldn’t stay quiet then. “You are nothing like him.” She interjected with furrowed brows and her hand grasping his.

 

In no way was he his father. In no way had he ever raised his hand to strike her or anything of that nature. Tarrlok actually cared for her, he showed her affection even when he was in no mood to. Though she’d only known him for a little less than two months, the time she spent with him was so much more compared to what he recalled from his past.

 

She caught his eyes directed at her small hand over his in thought. In the moments of silence spreading out too long for her liking, Tarrlok filtered her words judging by the passive expression etched on his face. But suddenly, he sighed softly.

 

Tarrlok shook his head. “You don’t know that.” He replied warily as his eyes met with hers.

 

Korra opened her mouth, yet nothing came out. Her heart broke at the sight of the defeat and exhaustion mirrored in him. The raw emotion he was showing her felt too foreign, too unmistakably uninhibited that she felt the need to comfort him just as he had with her.

 

Grazing her thumb over the back of his hand, Tarrlok glanced back at their intertwined hands, long hair falling over his face. “I may not have been there, and we may have only known each other for nearly two months, but you’re not a monster. That I know for sure.” She continued, putting a bit of steel into her words.

 

Tarrlok didn’t reply - not verbally, at least. The way he was staring at their hands spoke volumes though. Korra guessed it was a rare thing for someone like him to be so easy to read… but that was what heartache and grief and longing did to a person. Korra studied what little she could see of his face. Sadness, of course, was present, but there was also an edge of something she almost wanted to call fear. Was he afraid of becoming his father, or was he afraid of hurting her? It was difficult to say, even with his guard down.

 

She chewed at her lower lip, conjuring enough courage to release her hold on his shirt to tentatively brush the hair away from his face, tucking it behind his ear. Never in her life had she been so gentle towards someone - she had tried in the past - but the feeling came naturally.

 

At the light touch, Tarrlok’s crestfallen eyes easily met hers and instantly, Korra dropped her hand to grasp the sheets beneath them in order to steady herself.

 

There was nothing remotely suggestive as he regarded her yet she couldn’t break the contact. There was something gentle, endearing, and maybe even a little soft laced in his pale blue depths. Korra could practically see the sad little boy hidden behind Tarrlok’s drained face.

 

Part of her, probably the child in her heart, didn’t know how to react. The whole day, technically the whole week, had suddenly crumbled down to a pile of misery and tears and loneliness that the genuine aspect of Tarrlok was alarming. Now that she knew his past and his intentions, everything made sense.

 

Glistening blue eyes fleeted over his face, and when she met his gaze, something intangible sparked.

 

She didn’t know what she was doing, but something in her told her that this was it. She felt the same tender emotions for all of a few seconds those few nights ago and now, she couldn’t ignore what had been flickering between the two of them. She wanted to make him feel better, not to make him feel miserable. He had already experience too much of that for a lifetime.

 

When she thought about it, the two of them weren’t that different at all. Maybe it was because of the loneliness or the broken past, Korra couldn’t decide. But she knew one thing for sure was the undeniable comfort she felt - and she assumed Tarrlok felt too - in consoling with one another.

 

Her breath caught in her throat. Pale blue eyes glazed over with warmth. His mouth parted the tiniest bit as though he were about to say something more, but ultimately closed it as he thought against it. With his eyes caught with hers, Korra flushed when she felt his fingers twitch against her waist, inadvertently moving steadily closer.

 

Their slow movements brought them closer and closer until she was close enough that his eyes dropped to her lips in fixation. She didn’t know if he was coherent enough to realize what he did, but it made Korra draw in a sharp breath nonetheless. She swallowed over her parched throat, biting her lower lip in anticipation. The heat on her cheeks did little to steady her pounding heart at the mere sight of his tender gaze.

 

With the way he was watching her, Korra couldn’t deny herself anymore.

 

She grazed the tip of her nose with his, her breath catching in her throat. Without waiting another second, she closed her eyes and pressed her lips against his in a featherlight kiss. It was chaste, a tentative and gentle touch of plump lips against determined ones, yet the heat in her steadily sparked the flame. Everything around them quieted into silence - as though they were the only beings alive - the soothing sound of the rain calming her nerves despite her heart pounding against her chest.

 

He was tense against her, stubbornly unmoving even though his fingers trembled with what she perceived was unconscious yearning. She pulled a mere centimeter away from him, cracking open her eyes, only to catch him watching her with fascination and the hint of tenderness that was present in his eyes ever since she interrupted his story.

 

A part of her felt the same emotions stirring in the pit of her stomach and she couldn’t ignore it. Her eyes drifted shut once again as she pulled him into another kiss. He remained frozen against her lips, but suddenly - as if he couldn’t resist any longer - Korra felt the slightest pressure upon her lips as he began to respond, the tiniest flicker of heat sparked.

 

It felt all too nice and warm and soft, practically losing herself to the mere touch. As if wanting to alleviate their grief and suffering, her tongue tentatively licked at his bottom lip in an unvoiced request, never having done this before, and reveled at the way he almost instantly parted his lips for her.

 

When she threaded her fingers through his soft hair, her hand settling at the nape of his neck, Korra tilted her head to the side, immediately deepening the kiss. Their tongues hesitantly tangled with one another, as though they were relishing the unfamiliar feel of each other. Their mouths moved in sync with one another, both swimming in captivation and instinct as he tugged at her waist tighter. Korra never felt more in danger of burning up than she did in his arms. The mere softness of his tongue dipping into her mouth to slide against her own produced heated thrills to shoot up her spine.

 

Their kiss faltered, ragged breaths shared between the two before Korra’s lips slanted against Tarrlok’s yet again, leaving no room for thought. Fire was consuming them, they were lost in the sensations, yet the soft caress of his lips was more than she could ever imagined. All she could feel was the man pressed against her - the almost delicate way his lips moved against hers, his warmth, the slightest tremor in his body, and the roughness of his hands splaying themselves at the small of her back. She was falling into the depths of vanilla and tobacco and evidently held no qualms about it.

 

It was when Korra hummed softly in approval that the spell they were under broke into a million pieces. He pulled away from her as though he were burned, standing as far away from her as possible. He looked at her with wide eyes and a heaving chest at the need for oxygen to fill his lungs.

 

The sound of blood rushing filled her ears, her heart hammering at her chest, her breath coming out in pants like his own. Before she could do anything more than sit there stiffly, Tarrlok parted his lips as he tried to form a coherent sentence.

 

“Korra, I-” He began, shaking his head repeatedly before swallowing audibly. “We can’t do this.” He muttered, pale blue eyes unable to meet hers as he nearly bolted out of her room.

 

Everything happened so fast that she didn’t know what to do but sit there and gape at the door flung opened with an icy sensation flooding through her. She was left alone with her own thoughts, a place she honestly didn’t want to immerse herself in.

 

Korra didn’t know what came over her. And she definitely didn’t regret anything she did, but the undeniable shift in their relationship was finally put out into the open.

 

Flopping onto the mattress beneath her with a groan, Korra rubbed at her face exhaustedly and somewhat irritatedly.

 

Spirits, she really fucked it all up.

Chapter Text

 

Tarrlok broke apart from her lips, seeming as though he grabbed ahold of some sanity and recalled the reason why he was in her private space in the first place. Is there anything else you want to talk about? He rasped.

 

Korra hesitated for a moment, seriously contemplating his question, but was unable to come to terms that he abruptly stopped. It was obvious that she wanted to continue - that he wanted to continue - but something was holding him back. Was it because she practically broke down in tears and told him her whole life story? Was it because he did the exact same with her? Was it because he now had the knowledge that they couldn’t deny their attraction towards one another?

 

Ignoring the little voice protesting yet squealing in the back of her consciousness, Korra shook her head and said, No.

 

He brought his fingers to gently tuck the stray tendrils of hair behind her ear. No?

 

No. She repeated, a smile curving the corner of her mouth as she grasped his wrist and rubbed her lips right above a beating vein. She didn’t know why that comforted her, but it did. But there is something else I’d like to do now.

 

Apprehension and the tiniest bit of heat flickered through his pale blue eyes as she moved in closer to him, his hand dropping to the harsh curve of her waist once more. Really? He murmured, his voice grew huskier as he tilted his head to better receive her lips.

 

Mhm. She hummed back with a slight nod as the hand placed at his nape twitched in anticipation. The brush of his lips against hers once more caused her to suck in a sharp breath and moan. On the second, that wonderful lightheaded feeling came over her, and by the third, she was moving to hesitantly straddle his hips.

 

When he parted his lips and the kiss deepened, she realized that this was what she’d wanted for the past handful of weeks. It was comforting and warm and everything she wanted feel after her inevitable breakdown. His tongue swept inside her mouth, curled and stroked around her own as the hand wrapped around her waist trailed back up to tangle in her hair. Korra shifted her knees on the mattress, her shorts riding up as she pressed herself flush against his chest eagerly.

 

Tarrlok groaned into her mouth, his teeth nipping at her lower lip as his free hand traced tentative circles along the soft skin of her bare knee. When she took ahold of his wrist and guided his hand further up her leg, his touch became firmer, much more confident, until his fingers were gripping her thigh in such a way that she pulled away from the kiss with a gasp.

 

Their eyes met briefly before he was suddenly guiding her down onto the plush cushions of her bed. He followed her down and she was equal parts excited and anxious about what was more than likely to come. Some of it must have shown in her face, because Tarrlok paused, bracing himself on one forearm as his hand smoothed all too gently along her thigh, his eyes silently asking if she wanted to continue despite the hint of hesitancy judging by his clenched jaw.

 

Not trusting herself to speak, she hesitated a moment before nodding. Yes, this was okay. She wanted this. Even through the uncertainty he was feeling, she knew that for a fact. She wanted Tarrlok. She couldn’t deny it any longer. She wanted the promise of pleasure that burned in a pale blue fire as he gazed down at her.

 

When he slipped a thigh between her legs, she didn’t hesitate in spreading them wide enough to accommodate his hips. A startled gasp tore from her throat and her hips gave a sudden arch at the feel of his erection pressing just where her body ached. Through the layers of clothing and through the brisk air that filtered from the outdoors, she could feel how hot he was, how hard and eager he was to take things further even though his stone cold walls that were nearly crumbling into a pile of rubble. She felt him shudder and watched as his eyes squeezed tightly shut, as if even this limited contact was almost too much for him.

 

Korra smoothed her hand up the front of his button up until she was cupping his cheek, running her thumb over his lower lip tenderly in fascination. She waited until his eyes opened before arching up to kiss him chastely… and roll her hips in the barest of movements.

 

Tarrlok gasped and she used the simple movement as an excuse to tap her tongue to his, to circle her arm around his back and pull him down completely against her. Another deep, needy groan left him as he returned the kiss, one hand fisting the sheets beneath them as the other gripped her hip and guided the slow, circular grind. Every time they came together, his body rubbed against hers, sparking her passion higher and sending pleasant tingles racing all through her nerves. Every time they drew apart, she moaned at the loss and immediately sought him out again.

 

Things became blurry as the movement of their hips increased. She was vaguely aware of fumbling with his tie, undoing his button up, up and over his shoulders and how much better it felt to run her hands along the smooth, hard muscles of his arms. She could feel the firmness of his chest against her, could feel the shifting of muscles in his abdomen with every back and forth thrust. She didn’t realize until a sharp jolt of pleasure shot through her that he’d slipped a hand under her shirt and was exploring her bare breast, kneading and massaging the soft flesh while his fingers rubbed over a stiffened peak. It felt amazing, it left her breathless and aching for more.

 

It occurred to her as his mouth descended upon her throat to cover the silky column with scorching kisses that they were essentially having sex, albeit mostly clothed. She should have been embarrassed or disgusted with herself or at the very least feel some sort of modesty. Either she didn’t possess any or it was being buried beneath the onslaught of skin and friction.

 

Korra arched her back and threaded her fingers through his hair as his mouth began to move lower. She lifted her leg higher across his hip at the tugging of his hand, moaning as his calloused fingertips began to slide further up her skin. Her breath came in ragged pants, her hair clinging to the beading sweat at her brow and cheeks. She let her hands rove over the broad expanse of his back with fingers and nails. His skin was damp and every time her nails dug into his shoulders, his breathing hitched.

 

Her panting breaths blew across his temple as she nuzzled his cheek, trying to draw him into another kiss. Tarrlok obliged her immediately, his tongue plunging into her mouth. She wanted to kiss him back, to caress his tongue with hers, but the intensity of his mouth on hers was too much to reciprocate. Instead, she let him lead and responded by following his cues. She hooked her foot around his thigh, let her hands run down to grasp the tight firmness of his ass through his pants, and let the pleasure crash through her unrestrained.

 

Then he was touching her and she suddenly forgot about everything: modesty, her name, breathing… all of it completely blown from her mind by the slow, hesitant touch of his fingers to the heat between her legs. He pressed against her core again, drawing back to watch her shiver and grind herself into his touch. Again, this time following the seam of her underwear lower to tease her entrance.

 

His mouth was on hers again as he kept working his fingers against her, causing heat and dampness to pool between her legs at his ministrations. She moaned and gasped and panted as she arched her back, rolled her body into his, rubbed herself against him. There was no thinking behind the act, only instinctive movement.

 

Something was building inside her, something raw and primal. She could feel it coiling hotly in her stomach, winding tighter with each circular rub of his thumb against a particularly sensitive spot. His touch brought tingles and sparks of heat that shot throughout her body. And a small part - or rather a large part of her - silently begged him to keep going.

 

The heat of his arousal pressing into her thigh made her eyes open hazily as he continued nipping and sucking at her neck and shoulder. She debated a moment, torn between inexperience and wanting to give him pleasure as well, before sliding her hand along the narrow curve of his hip and between his legs.

 

As soon as her hand came into contact with his length, Tarrlok cried out sharply. His body went tense and for the longest time he remained utterly still against her, the only movement coming from the ragged, panting breaths that were smothered against her shoulder. And then he was covering her hand with his, guiding her how he liked to be touched.

 

She wasn’t certain at first that she was doing it right. He was much larger than she’d thought and surely such a firm grip couldn’t be pleasant. But the more she stroked him through his trousers, the sharper his breaths until they were tinged with gasps and grunts and little moans of pleasure. Tarrlok released her hand and returned to pleasuring her as well, pressing the heel of his palm against her and rubbing until her hips bucked up and began to move in time to the near perfect rhythm.

 

The tingling sensation started once more, easing through her until all that mattered was the next press of his hand to her core, the heavy, hot weight of him between her fingers. For all she knew, the city could be burning down around them and she wouldn’t care because it felt so good and to the spirits above she could feel herself drawing closer and closer to that nameless something, and instinct told her it would be wondrous when it happened. Just a little closer… a little more…

 

Korra. He grunted against her lips.

 

Korra? She heard Tarrlok repeat. That was weird, he sounded different. It was as if it suddenly wasn’t him. Instead of his husky, smooth voice it was a much deeper one, as though he truly were an old man.

 

“Korra.” That she heard clear as day. Snapping open her eyes, Korra frantically scanned the classroom as her heart hammered against her chest.

 

Mr. Tenzin’s mouth was set into a firm line, folding his arms across his chest. “How nice of you to join our lecture today.” He muttered.

 

Much to her dismay, the majority of the class was already looking at her in mild curiosity with snickers evolving into blatant chuckles. Immediately, she felt the heat of a flush slowly crawl up her neck. Asami on the other hand, well, her viridian eyes narrowed suspiciously towards Korra and that knowing gaze of hers only intensified the blush coloring her cheeks.

 

Cringing, Korra shrunk into her seat, fumbling with the ring wrapped around her index finger. “Sorry, Mr. Tenzin.” She apologized with a sheepish smile.

 

Mr. Tenzin took a slow, deep breath in, stroking his beard before abandoning the matter to turn and stare at the board in thought. Korra ran a hand through her loose waves and willed her heart rate to return to a state of normalcy, considering she could still feel Asami’s eyes on her. He made a noise at the back of his throat and scrawled what looked like nonsense on the board. “As I was saying, elections and the political process.”

 

—-

 

She knew she should say something other than simple grunts and indifferent mumbles, but she couldn’t help it. Even if she spoke, it was either met with a mildly surprised silence or drowned out by Mako and Bolin’s - mainly Bolin’s - story telling skills. But that did little to soothe her paranoia. Her mind was still focused on that kiss from the night before. Sure it was her idea, and she was in a little trance of sorts, but with the way be was looking at her it really did seem like he intended for their night to turn out that way. Was she wrong? Most likely. Was their relations abhorrent to the public eye? Definitely. Did she regret it? To the spirits above, no.

 

Playing with her barely touched plate of curry, Korra chewed at her lip in thought.

 

“Korra, are you okay? You’ve been spacing out every few minutes, it’s kinda creeping me out.” Asami asked tentatively, her soft voice pulling Korra out of her reverie. In all honesty, she probably wouldn’t have answered, but Asami had been suspicious of her since earlier that morning and she really didn’t need anyone on her tail at the moment. Not when she didn’t know what she was doing herself.

 

“I’m fine. I didn’t get to sleep that well last night, is all.” She mumbled. It wasn’t a total lie, she really didn’t sleep that well the night before, but for all different reasons. That being of the man most likely sitting at his desk with piles of paper in front of him or smoking a cigarette all while thinking over what happened just as she was.

 

With her shoulders slumping forward and a sigh of relief exiting her painted lips, her friend appeared to be happy with Korra’s answer. “Okay, just making sure. You’ve got me worried for the past week.” She murmured as Korra noticed Mako and Bolin share a sideways glance in some sort of secret language that she’d seen them use many times in the past.

 

Nearly shaking herself to focus on Asami, her eyes trailed back to her friend. Korra had to applaud to herself. Her acting skills must have improved since the last time she evaluated it, considering Asami fortunately believed her lie.

 

She scratched at the side of her head sheepishly before apologizing. “Sorry, there’s just a lot of things going on right now.” Again, it wasn’t a total lie, but she really didn’t need her questions at the moment.

 

But of course, nothing could come easy for Korra. Just as any good friend would do, Asami continued the conversation with a slightly worried expression etched on her face. “Do you want to talk about it?” She drawled uneasily.

 

Yes. That tiny voice at the back of her mind piped up.

 

Korra nearly let out a groan at that voice making itself known. But even she had to admit, the voice wasn’t wrong in the least. A part of her really wanted to say something, to tell Asami what happened the night before - and that part of her was restless. But she couldn’t. Not only because she’d spill every detail of who Mr. Nobody truly was and of the negative social stigma of attraction between an adoptive father and adopted daughter, but also because she doesn’t know how Asami would react.

 

It really wasn’t just about last night either. It was about the whole concept of her growing fond of her adoptive father other than in a familial manner.

 

Swallowing audibly, Korra glanced back into her partially eaten curry. What little of her appetite was previously there was now completely wiped away. It pained her to lie to her friends, especially Asami of all people, but if she was going to tell the truth to her, it had to be at the right time. At least when things cool down. “No, not really.” She lied. “Look, I’ll see you guys tomorrow, I just need some time to think.” Korra mumbled more to herself than to her friends.

 

All three of her friends glanced at each other, though Korra tried to remain unfazed from their own conversation as she resolutely scooted out of the booth, stood and swung her backpack on.

 

Bewildered, Mako spoke up over the noodles he cheeked. “You’re skipping calculus?”

 

Nodding, Korra scanned her friends’ faces. Spirits, why did they have to look at her as though she were in need of a group therapy meeting? She hated the attention as is, but by the spirits, all she was doing was skipping class. Nothing wrong with playing hooky, right? Although it was barely a game of hooky with all the taboo thoughts plaguing her mind.

 

Korra cleared her throat. “Yeah, tell Mrs. Pema that there was a family emergency or something. I’ll see you guys later.” She said, feeling three sets of eyes lingering on her back as she was already making a move to exit the establishment.

 

—-

 

It was a surprisingly sunny day, though the temperature said otherwise. Buildings swept by in hasty speeds as she stared blankly out the tram’s window. The robotic voice announced the upcoming stations, yet Korra couldn’t be bothered to register their meanings. Much to her surprise, there were barely any patrons joining her on the tram, except for an elderly woman cradling a bag filled with vegetables and a few businessmen occupying themselves on their phones, presumably on their lunch break.

 

People came and went as the train stopped at each station, but she barely paid attention to her surroundings. Whether it was because she didn’t care or she didn’t have the capacity to focus on something frivolous other than her own thoughts, Korra did not know. A sort of numb feeling sweeping over her in waves as she focused on the ever-present Harmony Tower standing proud at the heart of the city. Spirits, it felt like a lifetime ago since their spontaneous outing to the tourist attraction… and the inevitable interruption that she still left her with bitterness.

 

Whatever it was brewing between them then was definitely nothing compared to what happened the night before. A sort of taste of what was sure to come. And boy was she still in the midst of grasping some comprehension on what happened in the past twenty-four hours.

 

But now that their long-awaited kiss finally happened, she couldn’t stop thinking about it.

 

And for fucks’ sake. Korra couldn’t believe she was so careless as to blatantly daydream about him… doing things to her… heavenly things to her… as though the whole mess with him didn’t happen. In Mr. Tenzin’s class no less! Spirits, what was wrong with her?

 

She needed to focus on grieving for her dead parents yet this was what consumed her brain since the night before. Don’t get her wrong, the grief was still there, although it was a mere speck compared to what her mind was fixated on.

 

Yeah, Tarrlok’s thick co- The devious voice piped up. And if she had a physical body, she’d be smirking with eyes that held arrogance and brows that wiggled suggestively. Her train of thought usually ended up in that dangerous, not-so-taboo territory anyway, but she didn’t want to give the voice any satisfaction. Korra deliberately ignored the cackling voice in favor of more pressing thoughts.

 

Asami was already suspicious, as was Mako, and she seriously doubted Bolin was completely oblivious to the whole situation or rather that something was wrong with her. They did all have some sort of secret conversation she wasn’t apart of. She knew it shouldn’t faze her, but it did. Korra rubbed at her eye in slight irritation. She wasn’t irritated at her friends or even Tarrlok - although confusion crossed her mind more often than not when it came to him - but moreso at herself.

 

She couldn’t even fathom why she kissed him in the first place. For once, it wasn’t that voice giving her ideas, but rather it remained muted and hidden in the back of her mind. She had an inkling it had something to do with the uncharacteristically soft and breakable side he’d hidden so long from prying eyes. Hmm, maybe. Korra figured it was because he divulged something so private, so deeply embedded in his past that it clearly still affected him now, to her when he could’ve done exactly that to any one of his past lovers.

 

Besides the actual kiss, she couldn’t get past that little detail. Why her? But then again, the same question could be applied to why she chose him to tell her past to. Why him? She’d never been so open to someone and that ultimately scared her because the last time she trusted someone, they used that information against her. They’ve only known each other for no more than a few months, including the time they met one another at the orphanage. So why did she tell him?

 

Maybe it was because she was finally at peace with what she did to her parents? No, that couldn’t be it. The guilt was still eating at her no matter how small she was thinking of her mom and dad at the moment. Korra ran a her fingers through her hair as she thought. But then an idea crossed her mind. Maybe it was because she was getting too comfortable with Tarrlok. It made the most sense. And this was possibly the longest time she had spent with another man, not a mere boy, in such close proximity. With only the two of them in his huge estate - our huge estate, she corrected - it was only a matter of time before they’d get too comfortable with each other.

 

Their habits already were rubbing off on each other. They’ve already cuddled together on the sofa, albeit not blatantly so. They both initiated contact with one another that resulted in warmth and tingles sparking across their skin - well, her skin at the very least. They’ve already teased one another for a lifetime. They’ve already built a life within the grandiose walls of their home.

 

The idea itself had a flame sparking underneath her skin. What girl wouldn’t be fond of being treated as a princess? From her life at the orphanage to the time she spent with Tarrlok, she felt spoiled to say the least. She hated blatantly showing that she liked what he did, but it warmed her nonetheless. Then suddenly other ideas, much more wicked ideas popped into her mind.

 

Korra shifted in her seat, the familiar tingling beginning to settle low in her abdomen, just as it had in Mr. Tenzin’s class. Her eyes glazed over at the mere thought of her dream. His hands slowly running up her thigh to the junction between her legs, or his lips pressing fervent kisses and licks against her neck… or his cock hammering away in ardent need.

 

She squeezed her eyes closed at the sound of the announcer’s robotic voice. Seven hells, what was wrong with her? Clearly a lot was wrong with her if she couldn’t get her mind out of the gutter. Rubbing at her face in exhaustion, Korra scanned the tram once again, the elderly woman and the businessmen long gone while she was lost in thought. Then she glanced back out the window, the buildings looked new, maybe even unfamiliar.

 

She groaned in frustration as she realized she missed her station. Great. As if the day couldn’t get any worse.

 


 

Tarrlok couldn’t keep his attention from straying. If he knew his day would be wasted away by staring at the same measly piece of paper - and the same paragraph to be exact - he’d been looking over all while thinking of a certain teenager, he would have just packed his belongings and finished it at home where he most likely would have the same result. It’s as though he couldn’t go anywhere without thinking of her.

 

When he was in his office, just as he was at the moment, he recalled the sight of her meandering about the room or her sitting smugly atop his desk. When he was driving, he remembered the different places they visited together and the progression of their father-daughter relationship turned into lover-to-lover. When he was lounging in the safety and comfort of his own home, he recalled the many times she touched him, or he touched her, in the lightest grazes of skin with desire burning in those vivid cerulean irises. Even when he was doing nothing in particular that could correlate to her, the thought always lingered.

 

He tapped at the cigarette between his fingers in an unspoken rhythm. He’s surprised that he managed to finish one project this morning, but since his lunch break, he couldn’t be bothered to analyze new propositions. Not when the memory of Korra’s lips pressed against his in tentative delight plagued his mind. Spirits, he was going to hell for replaying that over and over again in the privacy of his own thoughts.

 

But the same few questions were circling around him throughout the past twenty-four hours. Why did she kiss him? Why did he allow her to do just that? And why in seven hells did he like it so much?

 

It was a mere kiss, maybe a little more than a simple peck, but it wasn’t as if he’d never kissed the opposite sex before, unlike Korra on the other hand. He knew based off of her movements that this was her first time going through with anything romantic. It was sweet, nothing like the heated encounters she had intentionally planned. The tentative roll of her tongue against his contradicted the possessive hand that grasped at his neck and hair. He didn’t want to admit it due to the implications that it entailed, but couldn’t stop himself from liking the feel. And that soft moan of hers. To the spirits above, he truly did not know if she was doing this to deliberately make him freeze up or if it was just her natural charm.

 

The soft sound was music to his ears, yet once he heard it, he was pulled from the spell she casted on him and was in need of air, the reality of what they were doing pouring on him like the rain from the night before.

 

But if it was just a mere kiss, why was it circling in his mind?

 

Spirits, Tarrlok had to wonder how a seventeen-year-old could get him into this jumbled state. It wasn’t even about his past at this point, which felt so foreign to him as he spoke. There was more to add into his long list of abuses and strikes, but he wasn’t ready to tell her that just yet.

 

He really was a failure as a father figure. He resolutely decided to rule that attraction out, to ignore it due to the fact that she needed a parent. Yet, when she pulled him into a kiss, he couldn’t help but to reciprocate, to indulge in the selfish side of his mind that needed the soft and gentle contact. Whether it was the feel of her or the comfort they held for one another, it was beyond him. What father figure would do such a thing to their own adopted daughter, someone who was at the verge of entering the grueling stage of adult life? What father figure would have dreams of touching her in ways he knew were more than inappropriate?

 

Seven hells, he felt like a lecher.

 

If it was any type of relation other than an adopted daughter and adoptive father, or at least a little older than she was now, he wouldn’t have any qualms about forming a relationship with her. But that wasn’t the case. He was her legal guardian, albeit not truly related to her - he would never in a million years cross that barrier between someone he was related to. But whether or not it was on his conscious, he was taking advantage of that.

 

Just as the night before, the little taste he had of her lips and tongue clearly had affected him more than it should, in ways that it shouldn’t.

 

Though he spent a few hours lying in his bed, staring at the ceiling as the events circled in his mind in little more than shock, he finally surrendered to his inevitable, fitful slumber when a pounding headache began to throb at his temples.

 

Once his eyes closed, the dream began.

 

She was looking at him, matching his smug gaze as the only sound came from the sharp staccato of her short nails hitting the wood of his desk. They were in his office, and maybe it was the thrill of doing something so natural to someone so forbidden when an official could easily walk in on them, but Tarrlok couldn’t bring himself to care, only for the pleasant tingles shooting through his veins. Not when she wore that irresistible latex dress.

 

A small part of him felt trapped by her gaze, unable to break that contact as he stood from his chair and caged her within his arms, his hands planted on either side of the desk. He didn’t speak. He didn’t need to. As he lowered his lips to hers, he communicated all that he needed. The kiss was soft and teasing, but soon enough his tongue was caressing hers, his teeth nibbling her lip, making her drunk on his ministrations until she could do little more than gasp in need of oxygen.

 

He recalled releasing her lips from captivity, trailing hot kisses down her neck as one hand settled at the small of her back to press her flush against him while the other travelled up to cup a confined breast. All too soon she was panting, moaning, arching into his touch and he encouraged her vocalizations, whispering against the column of her neck, his hot breath curling over her skin that resulted in a visible shudder of delight.

 

Growing impatient, Tarrlok slipped the straps of her dress down, freeing her torso of the tight material. His hands molded the soft flesh in his palms, her ample chest spilling from his hands. Tarrlok couldn’t be bothered to look away, her breasts were all too charming that he bent down, closing his mouth around the brown bud. He made her cry out in response and bury her hands in his smoothed back hair. He sucked at her hungrily, first hard and then soft, flicking her nipple with his tongue, worrying it with his teeth, making Korra beg for more in breathless pants, demanding that he leave bruises if necessary.

 

Tarrlok released her only so he could give her neglected breast the same treatment, the peak now swollen and tender. He repeated his ministrations and then switched back to the first breast to start all over, teasing, torturing, holding her down when she tried to thrash in pleasure. His nerves hummed with pleasure, his skin tingling and hypersensitive, but the bulge in his trousers throbbed for her. Tarrlok released her swollen breast with an audible pop, glancing at her with desire burning in his eyes and smirked mischievously.

 

Judging by the heat blazing in her eyes, he ventured to guess she was getting just as impatient as he was. The hands anchored in his hair tugged him back into place, trailing down to his chest and gave him a harsh shove, inadvertently tripping over his own feet.

 

In no more than what felt like a few seconds, Tarrlok was lying on the cold tiles in his office. Korra slid off his desk, standing over him menacingly with a predatory gaze. Evidently, she was in no mood for games. Rather than verbally spell out exactly what she wanted, she bent down to straddle his thighs, she fumbled with his belt and unzipped his trousers, just enough for his arousal to release from it’s tight confines.

 

Tarrlok raised an eyebrow at her boldness, but he couldn’t argue. That tight dress of hers had already ridden up to bunch at her waist with his help, exposing a flash of black lace.

 

She held a coy smile, but that coyness quickly disappeared when he reached out to her and ran his thumb gently over the moistened lace. The pleasure that singed her nerves was evident by the way her back bowed, her lips parted with a sob of indulgence, and her small hands fisted atop his chest. Tarrlok smirked at her response and repeated the action, tracing her cleft lightly through the rough fabric, moving bottom to top and barely grazing her swollen clit.

 

Up and down, he slid his finger, making her shudder and squirm on top of him. Her undergarments were soaking wet now, her arousal too great to be absorbed by the scrap of black fabric. He continued to pleasure her senseless, watching her with dark satisfaction as her hips bucked into his touch and she sobbed his name.

 

As Korra straddled his hips, she grasped his length, and it was all Tarrlok could do to clench his teeth as it pulsed in her hand. She gave him a hard stroke and he let his head fall in pleasure, his hips shifting restlessly against her thighs.

 

Tugging the lace to the side, he watched her brace one small hand on his chest as the other positioned his head against her dripping core, teasing him by rubbing the head against slick flesh with a bite of her lower lip.

 

Unable to deny himself, Tarrlok reached out to wrap her silky waves around his hand to pull her into a kiss. Their lips moved sweetly against one another, that is, until Korra tugged at his lower lip with her teeth and gave him a smug smile just as her hips gyrated. He groaned her name and bucked upward, but Korra didn’t give him the satisfaction so easily. She made him watch her arch and moan as she ground the head against her clit, her slick juices coating his arousal and preparing him for entry.

 

With the way she was watching him, he ventured to guess her plan in attempting to make him beg failed. She grasped him once more, stroking his hard yet velvety flesh before she positioned herself top of him and let the blunt heat slip inside.

 

His eyes were fixated on where they met, the sinking of her hips slowly taking in his length with a moan. Apparently he was thicker than she had anticipated and she evidently held no qualms about it, judging by the healthy flush coloring her cheeks and the almost predatory gaze she offered him as she sank lower and lower until they were pressed flush against one another.

 

For once in his life, he wasn’t the one in control.

 

He struggled to keep his composure, his hand gripping her hips as she moved tantalizingly slow. She bent forward pressing her lips against his and it took all his willpower and resistance to not turn them over and fuck her into oblivion. She was being soft and gentle, but soon enough their tongues twined passionately as his hands splayed across her rear. She moaned against her mouth, evidently relishing the feel of his shaft massaging her slick inner walls. Tingles sparked continuously as her hardened nipples dragged pleasantly against his muscled chest.

 

Tarrlok was breathing in ragged pants as his hands urged her into a faster rhythm. She complied, sitting up straight, making him groan as his arousal was forced deeper within. Her hips began to grind back and forth on his shaft, the movement of his hips traveling up her body so that her torso moved in the same sensual undulation. Tarrlok groaned her name, transfixed by her body, his hands squeezing the flesh of her ass as he relinquished all control. His eyes burnt holes in her skin as he watched the bouncing of her naked breasts, her tight abdomen flexing with every move.

 

She gathered her loose waves atop her head with one hand while the other squeezed her breast. His eyes never left hers, relishing the exquisite feel of feminine muscles gripping his arousal. Tarrlok ventured to guess she was enjoying herself, judging by the way her body trembled with each pump of his hips as she closed her eyes and concentrated on the sensation of his shaft rubbing all the right places inside her.

 

His thoughts were cut short when a jolt of pleasure shot through him that was so intense, it drove the very breath from his lungs. Tarrlok grasped her hips tighter, dragging her down as he bucked up as he felt himself nearing the end. He couldn’t stop himself, wanting to witness her release in the midst of passion and desperation. Vivid cerulean eyes snapped open, only to find Tarrlok rubbing her most sensitive spot with his thumb in time to the perfect rhythm of their hips. It was his turn to wear the satisfied smirk.

 

He could hardly take it; her tight muscles clamping down on him as his strummed her quim, the pure ecstasy crossing the beautiful features of her face. Tarrlok knew he was going to lose himself. He closed his eyes and prepared for the exquisite release, but suddenly he heard a shrill sound.

 

A sound that he knew most definitely wasn’t a part of the fantasy.

 

He was pulled out of his reverie at the persistent ringing of a phone on the other side of the wall. When it didn’t cease, Tarrlok let out a harsh sigh before stalking off to his assistant’s office all while grumbling to himself, trying not to show the evident signs of a growing erection.

 

“Ling, can you please do your job and pick up the damn phone?” He demanded as he opened the door with a creak. Yet he was met with nothing but the piercing ring and the blinking of a light on the phone. “Ling?” He called again. Where in seven hells was he?

 

Taking his assistant’s absence as a signal to answer the phone, Tarrlok picked up the phone from the desk and attempted to diminish any sign of arousal or annoyance in his voice to that of diplomacy. “Hello, this is Councilman Tarrlok.” He greeted.

 

“Well, hello, old friend.” A posh yet gravelly voice spoke up, a voice that had Tarrlok’s blood running cold at the mere four words. But he couldn’t ever agree with the man on the other line. In no way did he consider him an old friend with all that happened in the past.

 

In all his years in office, Tarrlok never thought he’d have the audacity or rather the courage to call him so blatantly. Well, he never did it in the past, in any case. Why start now?

 

“Hiroshi,” he mumbled, the mention of his name already leaving a sour taste in his mouth. Tarrlok hesitantly sat in his assistant’s chair, he couldn’t bring himself to stand lest his blood truly ran cold and his body met the floor in unconsciousness.

 

A low chuckle was heard on the other line, that only made Tarrlok clench his jaw and brows furrow in anger. “I applaud you, Councilman . You remembered my name. I had a feeling you would forget with all the luxury around you.” Hiroshi cooed mockingly. Tarrlok stared out the window, watching cars and the train pass by as he tried to filter Hiroshi’s words with a grain of salt.

 

Sighing impatiently, Tarrlok hunched over the desk, rubbing his temples and asked, “What do you want?”

 

“Cranky as always, I see…” The other man cackled. As though that could lighten the mood. Blatantly insulting him and acting as though they were old friends jesting with one another, Tarrlok nearly sighed at the unwanted conversation. He had better things to do than talk to a former employer that he had no intention of rekindling any sort of relation with. The temptation to simply hang up the phone was there, and he was more than willing to do just that, but just as he made a move to release the phone, Hiroshi continued. “At any rate, I heard some news flying around, something frivolous, nothing to get so wound up by, but I must know if it’s true.”

 

Despite wanting to leave the conversation hanging, Tarrlok’s curiosity bested him. “Which is?” He questioned reluctantly.

 

“Noatak is in your care now, yes?” The other man said, a statement rather than a question. The way he spoke, and despite the fact that he was likely to be hidden away in his home office, Tarrlok could practically see the smile etched on his face by the way he carried his typical leer in his voice.

 

Tarrlok froze, his eyes widening at the knowledge. “How did y-” He began.

 

But Hiroshi quickly interjected. “You see, a lot of things can be manipulated if you have wealth… I’m sure you of all people could understand where I’m coming from, right Councilman? Or am I wrong?” The other man asked, though the implication was not lost on Tarrlok. How could he not? He lived through the experience, yet Noatak paid the price of his impulsive actions.

 

Decidedly ignoring the latter questions, he focused on the fact that he was right in guessing it was ultimately him. “I must say, I had suspicions it was you. No one else seemed to care so much about Noatak’s well-being besides someone that controlled my brother for their own reasons.” He nearly hissed. Of course, he was still brewing in ire. The mere thought of his best years of life were soon about to crumble into a pile of dust, just at the sound of this man’s voice, had him sizzling. Even though the recent events with Korra said otherwise, Tarrlok was comfortable with the life he was living now than in the past.

 

But of course, nothing could continue forever, especially not with his bad luck and his father watching him from beyond the grave.

 

“Now, now, Tarrlok. Don’t forget that it wasn’t just your brother who agreed to our terms, you did as well, remember?” The other man not-so-subtly hinted. Indeed, he did agree to Hiroshi’s terms in the past, but that didn’t mean he was bound to the man forever. Spirits, he was a thirty-seven-year-old man, soon to be thirty-eight, yet here Hiroshi was trying to manipulate him as though he were the same naive young man he knew all those years ago. As though he were still seeking revenge, as though he were still looking for money to gather, as though he wasn’t one of Republic City’s most intelligent politicians.

 

Taking a slow, deep breath in, Tarrlok closed his eyes. “Again, what do you want?” He prodded, simply wanting to return to his stack of unfinished work rather than dawdle around the words that were hanging heavily over the conversation.

 

Tarrlok heard a what used to be intimidating chuckle on the other line. “I have a proposition.” Hiroshi went on all too seriously.

 

Tarrlok wasn’t surprised that Hiroshi already had a plan that most likely involved him and Noatak. “I’m not doing your dirty work and don’t bother asking Noatak.” He responded, shaking his head at the man’s predictable nature.

 

“Funny that you mentioned him, he actually agreed to my task.” He boasted, the smile evident in his voice. Tarrlok’s eyes narrowed the slightest bit. He must be jesting, simply trying to pull Tarrlok into his web of lies in order for him to agree. Though Tarrlok must admit that he did do exactly that as a way to climb the political ladder and into office, that did not mean he couldn’t see what was going on.

 

“You already-” He began slowly.

 

But once again, Hiroshi interrupted. “Of course. I know your brother, Councilman. He’d do anything for a few yuans and this is no different.” Tarrlok ran a hand through his smoothed back hair, seriously questioning why he was still listening to this man before he continued. “Luckily for him, this will earn him a small fortune.” He added, saying it as if Tarrlok was in need of money. He nearly let out a bark of laughter. Money was the least of his problems and even though he knew nothing lasts forever, he was more than certain that his position as a councilman assured that.

 

Tarrlok let out a mocking laugh at the man’s sloppy tactics. “Like I said, I’m not doing your dirty work. I’m well past that point in my life, even if Noatak isn’t.” He replied with a confident twitch in his brow and the typical smirk beginning to form on his lips. It only grew wider when silence met his ears.

 

As if sensing his victory over this conversation, Tarrlok leaned back into his assistant’s chair with a creak, waiting for the sound of Hiroshi’s defeat. Instead, he was greeted with a cold reply that had the smirk falling from Tarrlok’s face. “You know I won’t take no for an answer. So here are some options for you,” he added. “Either you agree to my plan and do as I say just like all those years ago, or someone you care so deeply for will pay the price.” Tarrlok didn’t dare speak. Not only because he was filtering Hiroshi’s words in his mind, but the implication of him hurting Korra did nothing but anger him. “I wouldn’t want to hurt her, especially knowing that Asami has fond feelings over the orphan. And I know how you look at her, and as much as the relation of you two is grotesque as it is unwarranted, it’s the same way I looked at my wife when I met her. Just because I’m sharing this information with you, keep in mind I have no remorse in hurting her after what your actions did to my wife. You have twenty-four hours. Your choice, Councilman.” He said menacingly.

 

“Hirosh-” He began, but was interjected as the line cut off.

 

—-

 

When he got home, he heard her laughter permeate through the walls from the outdoors. Although her mood barely lifted since he saw her earlier that morning - more that she seemed angry than her usual sulking - it warmed his heart to hear that laughter. Especially after what he’d been dealing with throughout the day.

 

Tarrlok meandered through the estate as quietly as he could, following the sound of her soft voice clearly talking to Naga and the succeeding laughter. He peeked around the corner of the door and found her lying on the concrete perimeter of the pool, her arms propping herself up and legs submerged in the presumably cold water. Folding his arms across his chest, he leaned against the threshold and watched as Naga came trotting from the bushes and back to Korra with a ball situated in her mouth. It was an endearing sight, watching her find comfort and smile at the life she had here. At any rate, it was a lot better than the night before.

 

He had to wonder how she was taking things. Was she fantasizing about what happened as much as he was? He had an inkling she was, but he couldn’t be too sure. Nevertheless, her feelings were more than amplified the night before. As well as his, but he was more confused than anything.

 

Should he confront the problem? Should he give into the temptation? Or should he continue to ignore her until these absurd feelings pass? Tarrlok was at a loss, nearly groaning out loud as his jaw clenched.

 

Studying the young woman throwing a rubber ball across the yard while Naga ran towards it, he couldn’t help but hear Hiroshi’s words echo in his mind. Tarrlok couldn’t believe he’d go as far as to hurt Korra - well, not too surprised - but the thought alone brought him nothing but fury. As much as he was trying to limit their distance, he never wanted anyone to hurt her. Just thinking of a faceless stranger or a familiar face hurting Korra made his heart break and his hands clench. He was lost in thought as he observed her, inadvertently failing to notice the footsteps coming closer and closer to his side.

 

“Don’t think too much, you might pop a blood vessel.” Noatak chuckled, bringing Tarrlok back into reality. Tarrlok’s eyes flicked to his brother as Noatak mimicked his leisurely posture, although the tautness was absent in his body.

 

“Very funny, Noatak.” Tarrlok murmured all too seriously. Now was not the time for Noatak’s jests, not when so much was going on that he barely had time to decide what to do… both in the circumstances of Korra and of Hiroshi.

 

Pale blue eyes unconsciously trailed back to Korra’s lounging form with Naga curled in a circle at her side. The silence between them stretched far too long in Tarrlok’s opinion, but just like recent events, he was speechless, unable to form a coherent sentence without sounding foolish.

 

Tarrlok swallowed over his dry throat. How in the world can he manage to refuse Hiroshi and keep Korra safe at the same time? He was at a loss.

 

With a sigh, Noatak followed his brother’s gaze and immediately understood what was going on. He must have been completely transparent, judging by Noatak’s shifting gaze, from Korra and back to Tarrlok. “I assume you’re stressed due to a certain wealthy individual?” He questioned quietly, having no intention for Korra to overhear the nature of their conversation.

 

Tarrlok grimaced, utterly baffled that his own brother had to ask something so obvious. “Of course I am! You already agreed!” He hissed in hush tones.

 

It wasn’t necessarily the fact that Noatak agreed to Hiroshi’s proposition - although, it did impact their plan years ago when they both promised never to interact with the man again. It was more that Noatak couldn’t turn down the opportunity to earn some extra money, especially when they weren’t considered lower class citizens as they were before. It was more that Noatak spent the majority of the week to his own devices, but only now did he show up, already agreeing to Hiroshi’s terms without mentioning a word to him in the time that he was gone.

 

Noatak’s stony face hardened as he brows furrowed the slightest bit. “Brother, how can I not? It’s fifty thousand yuans.” The other man argued back.

 

Tarrlok scoffed, shaking his head and unable to meet his brother’s threatening gaze. He nearly let out a groan at how childish his brother was acting, as though he discovered a candy shop when they were mere kids. “You act as though we’re dirt poor, Noatak.” He retaliated, eyes narrowing yet still fixated on Korra’s relaxed figure.

 

“That doesn’t mean we can’t earn more.” Noatak reasoned, settling a hand on Tarrlok’s shoulder to catch his attention. He glanced at his brother, unwillingly, but before he could interrupt Noatak and try to persuade him at exactly how much of a bad idea it was to agree to Hiroshi, Noatak continued. “Money can come and go, brother.”

 

As far as Tarrlok was concerned, money wasn’t the issue. And it seemed as though that Noatak was only using that bit of information, their only prize, to convince him into agreeing to their former employer’s wishes. Tarrlok utterly despised the way things were turning out, he hated the fact that he would be used as a puppet, as someone doing another’s dirty work for the sake of protection and some extra cash, but he was dumbfounded as to how he should deal with the problem.

 

Tarrlok’s gaze slowly panned to his brother’s hand, then up his arm to meet identical irises already watching him. He couldn’t believe what Noatak was saying. “Yes, but for them to hurt Korra? Is it seriously worth debating just for someone that I truly care about to get hurt if I don’t agree?” He questioned, his voice rising the slightest bit in incredulity.

 

“Maybe you can use the money for cupcake’s future. She is going to university next year. No loans, no debt. Just consider it.” Noatak responded with a shrug, giving Tarrlok’s shoulder a gentle squeeze before stalking off to the guest bedroom in what Tarrlok presumed was a well-deserved nap… well, maybe not so well-deserved, but a nap nonetheless.

 

Pale blue eyes broke his glare towards his brother’s back and returned to Korra, his gaze softening despite their tumultuous bond. Maybe Noatak was right. Maybe he should agree, just as a way to protect Korra. And if he did go along with Hiroshi’s plans, she wouldn’t need to know.

 

In any case, it was better off that way.

Chapter Text

 

 

Tarrlok wandered aimlessly around the markets along the path towards the temple. Korra was at school and he surprisingly managed to finish his stack of papers early, considering his mind was filled with endless distractions. He decided it was a great time to take the rest of the day off since his ‘twenty-four hours’ were almost up. He took it upon himself to stray, to meander through the city and sort his thoughts out and figure whether he wanted to agree or to refuse Hiroshi before he had to pick Korra up. In any case, Noatak was home and he was more than willing to keep Naga company in the meantime.

 

Much to his surprise, the area wasn’t as crowded as it typically was, but the constant cacophony of vendors announcing deals and discounts and their products as well as the patrons that took it upon themselves to buy their goods met his ears, although nothing truly stuck in his mind. For one, it was too cold to process society, and secondly, Tarrlok’s only focus were on two people that gave him a headache just at the thought. He had no particular place in mind, simply allowing his feet to take him to any destination so long as it didn’t directly remind him of Korra.

 

With a hand stuffed in his coat pocket and the other holding an umbrella up, Tarrlok took in the sights of rain falling lightly, of the lanterns beginning to glow in warm lights as the sky grew dark and gloomy from the brewing storm. He took a deep breath in, relishing in the brisk air before moving past eager tourists taking pictures. Tarrlok paid them no mind, keeping to himself, lost in his own thoughts.

 

His feet made their way to a local vendor filled with fresh delicacies. Steam and warm yet dim light came streaming out from the little shop.

 

Mindlessly, he purchased a warm drink of green tea and snack of dango from the lady hurriedly making the fresh batch of desserts. Tarrlok stood at a nearby table, simply waiting for the light meal yet his mind was absent of reality. Instead, his thoughts were circling over the same few questions he was unable to answer.

 

Was the whole situation with Hiroshi worth it?

 

Tarrlok closed his eyes and nearly groaned aloud. He had to question why he was even thinking too much about the situation. Sure, he had worked for the guy years in the past and sure, if it weren’t for Noatak, he knew damn well that he’d be locked behind bars just as his brother had been. Tarrlok knew the game of manipulation well enough, and he knew Hiroshi would never be able to manipulate him the way he did then, but is it worth agreeing to? He had to consider all the factors that came into play; his role as a Councilman, if society ever found out, and if Korra would - will - find out. She will find out eventually, especially with how fast their fondness grew just within the near few months she had lived with him.

 

He nearly cursed to himself, but caught himself just as the woman placed his order in front of him, bowing politely before Tarrlok reciprocated absently. He grasped onto a stick and stuck a small ball into his mouth, chewing slowly. What was wrong with him? It was Korra’s life on the line - he had no doubt that Hiroshi would hurt her if he refused to the task he had in mind - he’d do anything to protect her despite the circumstances they were in now.

 

Korra.

 

Spirits, the thought of her alone, or rather his situation with her gave him a headache. Since their kiss, he hadn’t spoken to her more than necessary. It wasn’t as though he deliberately meant to ignore her, it’s the simple shock that she had the gall to make such a daring move and for him to allow her to continue rather than immediately pulling away. He took a healthy gulp of the green tea before returning to the dango, pale blue eyes staring absently at the lit lantern hung at the edge of the roof.

 

He should have seen it coming. With what they’ve been acting around one another, it was only bound to happen sooner or later. But by the spirits, the one time he let his guard down, the one time he was completely - well, almost completely - transparent, something that could have been avoided happened just because he was in a trance. And of course, he allowed himself to indulge in the pleasurable feel of her tongue against his. How could he not? His willpower, his resistance was practically wiped away just at the simple press of her lips against his, yet that little moan that vibrated through her was what got his attention.

 

The thought was tantalizing and at the same time, frightening, due to the fact that there was an undeniable shift in their relationship. It wasn’t a father-daughter bond, it wasn’t mere flirting, it wasn’t the banter they typically exchanged that could, at times, pass as friendly, light teasing.

 

No. There was physical touch.

 

His sex drive nearly sang at the possibilities, but his intellect tried to clear away the lewd thoughts and focus on reality. He was her adoptive father and she was his adopted daughter. Nothing more, nothing less. Anything more than that would be considered a disgrace.

 

A small part of him threw caution to the wind and reveled in the danger of a taboo relationship, but the majority of his conscious knew the simple fact that whatever happened and would happen between him and Korra needed to stop. He needed to cut the ties she created and he encouraged her to form.

 

Disgust and self-loathing coursed through his veins. Spirits, how could he ever think that a relationship with Korra could ever happen? Tarrlok shoved the rest of the delicacy into his mouth, hastily chewing the sticky morsels and cleansing his palate with the bitter drink before passing the threshold of the temple’s arches and bathed himself in golden hues. A few moments to himself wasn’t selfish, right? He needed to be alone, to think things over before he did something rash, nothing like he did those many years ago.

 


 

The hours he spent at his desk passed in a blur. One call blended into the next until he was forced to scrawl all the plans that began to form so coherently into his planner. Almost every detail was coming together. Of course, his devious plan wasn’t completely finished, but it was coming together, nonetheless. Despite how his plans were still in the works, he was optimistic that it would succeed.

 

It was a simple task really, something even he could do himself, though he would never do that. He couldn’t - wouldn’t - tarnish his life as it was now, not when it had Asami nearly graduating and starting her life as a true adult and the difficulties society had in store, but he was more than willing to tarnish another. He had his own employees, though some of them held the same mentality as that corrupt politician that tried to mask it with good deeds and friendliness and so-called diplomacy. That didn’t work on him though. He knew what happened and what his actions caused, even when he recently began sheltering a teenager, someone who Asami cared about now.

 

Just that information alone should have made him feel some form of sympathy towards the politician, but he couldn’t lie, it truly didn’t. He felt no remorse towards his former employee. The simple fact that his emotional and rash actions caused his own family distress and the death of his wife was what kept his resentment alive. He could have let it go, could have forgiven what the Councilman did, but he didn’t want that to let him go so easily.

 

All these years he tried to distance himself from reaching out to the brothers. But once he heard the Councilman took up a child, he knew he had to do something. It was only by coincidence that he had a reason to bring Noatak back from prison and his dear brother from hiding behind that diplomatic veneer he carefully crafted.

 

Sighing, he transferred his messy scrawlings from paper to the safety of his computer, the tiniest smile curving his lips at the very thought of having both of them under his thumb once more, when the phone at his side rang with a shrill sound.

 

He blindly reached a hand towards the source of the sound while the other continued typing and said, “Hello, this is Hiroshi Sato speaking.”

 

For a few moments, there was silence on the other side of the line. He perceived it as a prank call or someone merely playing a joke on him, but just as he was about to hang up the phone, a familiar voice spoke up. “I’ll do it.” The other man said somewhat meekly.

 

The smile already etched on his face widened at the three words. He was tempted to push his buttons, to tease him just as he did all those years ago, but he refrained from doing so. There was a time and place for such things and they definitely weren’t on the best of terms, which could only lead to the Councilman’s rage emerging from that mask he wore for the city. “Excellent.” Hiroshi uttered, the smile evident in his voice. “I’ll give you the instructions when the plan is fully formed. You’ve made the right choice, Councilman.” He continued.

 

“Daddy, can you help me with - oh, are you busy?” Asami came barging into his office, her dainty hands grasping a piece of paper and just in time for the other line to disconnect in complete silence. The Councilman must have heard Asami’s voice and immediately decided to leave the situation before it was too much for him to handle. Such a coward, that man.

 

Hiroshi placed the phone back into its place and glanced at his daughter’s apologetic eyes, discreetly closing the tab he was working on. He had to shake his head, murmuring, “Of course not, sweet pea.”

 

With his reply, Asami nodded, though she didn’t look convinced. She meandered over to his side, perching herself at the edge of his desk as he matched her unbreakable gaze. “Who was that? It looked pretty serious.” She questioned, fiddling with the edge of the paper in her grasp. He knew she was an intelligent young woman, but he didn’t want her to be apart of this business of his, especially not when it could hurt her little friend.

 

Gesturing vaguely towards the phone, he put on an innocent face, responding with, “Just confirming some stuff before the next flight I’m on next week. Pilot stuff, you know how I am.” Whether she knew he was hiding something or not, he did not know, and she seemed to favor talking of anything else besides that. She slid off his desk and placed the piece of paper onto the surface in front of him.

 

It was her homework.

 

For some odd reason, he was thankful for the distraction, thankful that she didn’t question him further, and thankful that he had time to be with his daughter.

 


 

The moment she opened her eyes that morning, she knew it was not going to be a good day. The last two nights at the estate progressed just as expected. Korra tried to distract herself with volleyball and Naga and the project her and Asami were assigned and really anything that could get her mind off of that asshat who was ignoring her, yet it only produced nothing but anger and a heat within her that grew hotter by the minute. It was bad enough that she saw him constantly and that he deliberately went out of his way to ignore her - most of the time - but the fact that Tarrlok was acting as though everything was normal after their kiss was making Korra crazy.

 

She hadn’t really spoken to him since - well, she tried to - considering she only received one-worded answers from the man. When they were both home, she caught glimpses of him cooking or working on those papers he was so fond of yet he never approached her and remained at an arms-length away from her when he needed to talk to her. After their bout of completely unexpected kisses, her mind had been running in confused and slightly panicked circles - as well as a little more than the gradually uncontrollable attraction - for the better part of the forty-eight hours.

 

The question kept popping up in her mind. What the hell had come over her? She had never gotten so worked up before, especially when it came to a situation as serious as her parents’ death. The week surrounding their anniversary were usually grim and one of the most vulnerable days people can witness her in. Why she thought then was the best time to brave a kiss from him was beyond her. She knew her parents were her first priority, but she had focused instead on her own guilty pleasures. She recalled the way his warm, calloused hands felt as they dragged over her skin, and the soft, hypnotizing feel of his lips against hers. Spirits, just the memory of it made her shiver and she knew this confirmed the idea that she never could see him as a father figure. He wasn’t just her legal guardian now. In her eyes, he was a man, a sexually charged and dangerously seductive man, and that spelled big trouble for her due to the fact that she found herself intrigued by the thought after their little makeout session of sorts.

 

Korra did plenty enough that had gotten him riled up in the past - and she could admit she wasn’t exactly immune to her own actions, but that's besides the point. That deft tongue of his tangling with hers had sent a shiver up her spine and a soft moan to rumble in her throat. What could an experienced man like him do if he really put his mind to it? She had no doubt it would be one of the most blissful encounters she could ever hope to have.

 

But that was the problem. She was thinking about what it would be like to have sex with Tarrlok, and that, to put it simply, was not okay.

 

Of course she was curious, and that wonder only grew the more Asami spent joking about it. The times she daydreamed or her nightmares were replaced with fantasies, she would hear their impassioned moans intermingled together and that only made her more curious as to what it would be like to have a man take her, specifically the man that was currently in a meeting he constantly complained about.

 

What would sex be like with Tarrlok? Would he even want to have sex with her? She was twenty years younger than him after all, and his adopted daughter no less. Would he think of her as silly and immature? As attempting to appear more mature and grown up since her innocence was practically stripped away at such a young age?

 

That couldn’t be right, though. Judging by the way he had acted since she began this game of theirs, unspoken words communicated that he thought she was certainly attractive enough, and he said himself that she was becoming quite the young woman. She’s paraphrasing, of course, but he did view her differently, that she knew for sure. But did that mean he found her desirable? Or was it just a combination of hormones and the eroticism of their taboo relationship that made him like her actions? She did do some pretty far-fetched things to him, and now that she looked back on it, she felt a little bad for the poor guy.

 

But Korra had a sneaking suspicion that it would take more than that to break down Tarrlok’s iron will and stony self control. If that was the case, then what did Tarrlok really think about her? The question was gnawing away at her incessantly and she longed to know the truth, but finding the answer would be very hard, considering they haven’t exchanged more than necessary since the incident happened. She supposed they would have to talk about it eventually. They couldn’t go on about their lives and pretend like it never happened… right?

 


 

“Don’t act so surprised, Noatak.” Tarrlok said, a smile evident in his voice before he sipped at the broth from the bowl of soup in front of him.

 

Noatak scoffed in disbelief and shook his head. “Not surprised. Merely impressed, if you will.” He replied, brows raised as he gazed upon the feast splayed across the table. Bowls of rice, steaming soups of noodles and tempura, and side dishes from sweet to savory littered the wood.

 

As he took a bite out of a dumpling, heaven graced his taste buds. To the spirits above.

 

It was a feast he knew his brother attempted to make on multiple occasions since they moved to Republic City. When he first tried to make the lavished dinner, it was delicious, though there was a definite need for improvement on his part. It wasn’t until now that he realized the thirteen years he was gone he mastered the dishes with no one to share it with. It was a rather grim and lonely way of looking at it, now that Tarrlok had Noatak, Korra, and Naga at his side, but the thought alone put the tiniest of smiles on his face at the growth his brother experienced throughout all those years.

 

It was far more superior than what he could ever make. He never held a penchant for the culinary arts, moreso cooking for survival, and he could admit it never was and nor would it ever be anything compared to his brother’s skill in the kitchen.

 

Tarrlok chuckled, swallowing the soup and using his chopsticks to pick up a dumpling from a plate, saying, “I am too, but then again, the old saying holds some truth: practice makes perfect.”

 

Noatak nearly spat morsels of shrimp flying across onto his brother’s face - though such a waste of delicious food would be considered a travesty - at the audacity of the man. He created a masterpiece. It was clearly more than perfect and he knew he wasn’t the only one who thought so judging by the smug smirk that lined his brother’s lips and the vexed yet conflicted expression on Korra’s face - which he duly noted and brushed it off as something he shouldn’t delve into.

 

He stuffed his mouth with a few pickled vegetables and slurped the noodles down enthusiastically. Spirits, if he could die at that moment, he would leave with no regrets.

 

He swallowed the food and gave his brother a deadpan look. “Perfect is an understatement, brother.” Noatak responded, taking in the way Tarrlok barely could contain the smile from widening. But that smile gave the smallest of twitches at the corner of his mouth as an indifferent hum was heard from the girl beside his brother.

 

Though the sound was clearly meant for Tarrlok, that didn’t seem to faze him as he continued on with a jest before taking a bite out of the fried shrimp with a satisfying crunch. “Don’t tell me you’re getting soft, Noatak. All this flattery will make me blush.” The other man teased which only resulted in a shake of his head and an exaggerated roll of Korra’s eyes. They lapsed into silence for a few moments, savoring each bite of the mouthwatering food, though Noatak snuck a few tentative glances between his brother and the girl at his side, both of which seemed to completely ignore one another’s existence.

 

Noatak knew better than to touch on the subject, of whatever it was that occurred between the two while he was gone for the few days, and simply ate in silence. In any case, ignorance was bliss.

 

As if the silence was bearing too much weight on his brother, Tarrlok cleared his throat and asked, “Before I forget, how long are you and Shin going on this so-called getaway?”

 

“Just a few days, brother. Surely you won’t go mad and your life won’t crumble into chaos in the span of those few days, right?” Noatak questioned with a teasing smirk curving his lips that earned him a click of Tarrlok’s tongue.

 

“Tch,” he scoffed.

 

Just as Tarrlok said, he and Shin were heading off to catch up for a few days. He and Shin planned to leave in just a few hours to a town up north, past the mountains, and certainly away from Republic City. Noatak perceived this getaway as a time to replenish and rekindle the old flame of friends. It surely wasn’t just going to be him and Shin, where would the fun be in that?

 

Noatak took another mouthful of food, chewing the delicious morsels as he thought of the things he needed to talk to Shin about. From his so-called reunion with Hiroshi at the train station, then the way he pulled him aside to talk over his proposition, Noatak was a little less than enthusiastic of returning to Sato’s business. It was something he knew he couldn’t refuse - or rather, he couldn’t fully get out of - and he accepted that years ago. Call it nostalgia or simple denial, Noatak couldn’t be bothered to think too deep into the reason why he couldn’t refuse Hiroshi’s plan, besides the proposal of a small fortune. It was exactly why he needed to speak to Shin and think things over, especially after what had happened to Tarrlok’s last memory of working with the man.

 

Shaking himself of his thoughts, Noatak took a deep breath and asked, “So how was the meeting that you were dreading?”

 

“Please, don’t get me started.” His brother said, holding up a hand in a gesture to stop the conversation from continuing as he sipped at his glass of alcohol. But he was Tarrlok’s brother; he couldn’t abandon an opportunity to tease him so long as he continued living on this hell of a planet. With his curiosity piqued, Noatak swallowed the rest of his soup and cleared his palate with a gulp of sake before narrowed eyes studied his brother’s taut body language.

 

“We have all night -” Noatak began.

 

However, Korra interjected, mumbling a mocking, “ We have all night . Pft, my ass.” She rolled her eyes. Just the sound of Korra’s voice caused Tarrlok to tense further.

 

Noatak’s narrowed eyes immediately shifted from his taut brother towards the irked girl beside him. Of course he was curious, though he wasn’t about to voice anything. And he already established he wouldn’t delve into Tarrlok’s personal problems with the teenager. No. This was all Tarrlok’s doing, and he didn’t need to pry into their complicated relationship. Not when he relished the idea of keeping his mental health in check, although that was already ruined at such a young age.

 

Before he could make a snide comment on the girl’s unwarranted attitude, Tarrlok recovered first and decided to scrabble about in the supposedly long day - meeting - he had earlier in the morning. “The proposition that we discussed was all sorts of incoherent, irrelevant, and irrational. There was nothing of value that other citizens can benefit from besides the one that proposed it.” He shook his head, grabbing ahold of the last bits of noodles in his bowl with his chopsticks. “I can’t necessarily divulge such information, and I do understand where this individual was coming from - to an extent - but it’s simply a half-assed attempt to pass a proposition that no one truly has the energy to care about.” He finished his thought with a vague gesture of his hand.

 

Noatak nodded slowly, taking in what his brother said before they lapsed into another few moments of silence. The only sound came from the wind howling and rain pouring outside the warm walls of the estate and the sharp clamoring of metal chopsticks striking the side of porcelain dishes as they ate.

 

When Tarrlok did not elaborate, and made no intention of continuing on with his story that he complained about all morning, Noatak sighed and scratched at his temple in slight frustration. “Are you going to tell us what they proposed or what?” He prodded with half lidded eyes and a cocked head.

 

His brother’s brow twitched at the tone in his voice and matched his gaze, chewing at his food with a tilt of his head. “Like I said, I can’t necessarily disclose the meeting’s topics… but…”

 

“But?” Noatak questioned. There was obviously something his brother wanted to divulge if the widening smile was anything to judge by.

 

“Despite the council who remained disinterested in pursuing the proposition, there is one advantage that came out of the meeting.” Tarrlok dawdled around the subject with a knowing smile.

 

Noatak nearly picked a piece of his tempura to throw it at his brother for stalling, but just as he pinched at a piece, he instead placed the heavenly food in his mouth. “Which is?” He drawled, reaching for the last dumpling on the plate just as the teenager across the table did as well.

 

His gaze shifted to the girl who was giving him one of the most intimidating looks he had ever seen. Before he was about to release the dumpling out of his grasp, he felt a sharp sting of chopsticks striking the back of his hand. Spirits, what in all hell? Affronted, Noatak cradled his wounded hand, stroking it soothingly as Korra stole the last dumpling from the plate and ate it with a stone cold, merciless, gaze.

 

Wow. What happened with her? And why was she directing her anger towards him? What did he do wrong?

 

Noatak was about to make some indignant noise, about to tell his brother to discipline his child, but Korra already moved on, eating her bowl of rice and vegetables. Either Tarrlok didn’t have an ounce of compassion for his older brother or he simply didn’t care to pursue the reason why Korra striked him, but he continued on with a single, nonchalant gaze at the empty plate. “For once, the revisions were not pushed onto me, rather Councilwoman Aiko gladly took up the challenge.” He said.

 

Noatak took his brother’s response as a signal to leave the subject alone. “Very fortunate for you, you finally have the night off.” He replied with a slow nod of his head as he grasped his glass of sake.

 

“Yeah have the night off just to ignore me.” Korra mumbled inaudibly, though it was loud enough for him and Tarrlok to hear. Noatak’s wary eyes returned to the girl while Tarrlok stubbornly kept his gaze directed towards the pickled vegetables. She was more or less violently mixing her rice, no trace of remorse showing on her face.

 

“You’ll break your father’s precious china if you continue stabbing at your food, cupcake.” He murmured, watching her angrily stuff her face.

 

“Good.” She said over a mouthful of food.

 

She looked undignified at best. Noatak glanced back at his brother who remained silent as he gingerly ate his own food.

 

“Is there something I missed here?” He asked his brother.

 

Yet he ignored the question as though it weren’t meant for him. “Did Hirosh- Hisoka mention anything yet?” Tarrlok retaliated as he reached for his glass of sake, finally meeting his brother’s gaze all too innocently.

 

“Erm, no. Not yet.” Noatak answered, brows furrowing the slightest bit with the confusion he felt. He was tempted to just leave the two to their own devices - he was too old to deal with drama - due to the fact that they were clearly squabbling about something irrelevant, but curiosity bested him.

 

Tarrlok nodded. “Hmm. It’s been two days since we agreed to his proposition, yet no instructions were given thus far. If I didn't know any better, I’d say he’s withholding pertinent information from us.” He responded, tapping one chopstick against the other in feigned thought.

 

“Calm down, brother. He made us wait longer in the pas-“ He began, but was almost immediately interrupted with the sound of a chair’s legs screeching against the marble tiles, chopsticks dropping onto an empty plate, and hands slamming against the table’s surface. Both him and Tarrlok flinched at the abrupt sound and watched as she stomped off away from the two of them, mumbling incoherent words. It wasn’t until they heard a door slam that he asked, “What the hell was that?”

 

Noatak quietly studied his brother’s composure as he sighed and leaned back into his seat. One hand tapped at the wood beneath his fingertips while the other ran a hand through his loose hair. It was certainly different than the feigned indifference that he held throughout their meal. Somehow it seemed as though he were exhausted. But from what? Or who rather. Though he already knew the answer.

 

Tarrlok shrugged and stared at the empty plates. “Who knows, maybe hormonal changes?” He said offhandedly, but Noatak knew it was a lie.

 

“Maybe.” He simply agreed, though he knew Tarrlok knew more about the situation than he wanted to divulge. He was perfectly fine with remaining blissfully ignorant, and he truly wasn’t about to go ask what really happened. No. Just as he already established, Tarrlok was on his own.

 


 

Korra tried to hone in on her breathing, tried to calm her frenzied nerves, though she had an inkling it would be of no use. It couldn’t be helped knowing that the man she was so incredibly annoyed with yet wanted him to continue where they left off was ignoring her. Sure, she could understand the day after their shared kiss… but the succeeding two days? Of course she was mad! He barely could string a few words at a time, let alone actually look at her in the eye.

 

But spirits, the anger she felt towards him only contributed to the fire stirring low in her abdomen.

 

She was restless to do something, to do anything to get rid of the heat heavily building up within her. For some reason, Korra was tempted to run out into the brewing storm and just lay in the grass and hope for the best, but that didn’t necessarily sound like a good time, especially when she could practically hear Tarrlok’s protests. But then again that method meant she could catch a glimpse of Tarrlok’s anger, and maybe it was the masochist in her that relished the idea of seeing the heat in his eyes. She sat at the edge of her mattress, thinking.

 

A glance at the clock on her phone told her it was already after seven. Tapping her finger on the side of her phone in impatience, Korra thought of things she could do in an attempt to distract herself. She could practice her lines in the presentation her and Asami were working on throughout the week. They did have to present it tomorrow, she reasoned. Padding along to her backpack, she reached into the front pocket and grasped onto the few index cards she had to memorize.

 

She spent a few moments to herself, skimming and whispering the lines she wrote down on the piece of paper. Though her mind was still unable to focus. It also didn’t help that she heard the familiar sound of the front door close shut, his footsteps cross the hall and stopped into his office. Curiosity bested her, she cracked open her door with the tiniest creaks and winced to herself. She peeked down the hall, discreetly watching him take a seat in his chair with a long, suffering sigh, Naga circling around a spot on the carpet beside him as he cracked a window open and lit a cigarette, tidying up his mussed desk.

 

Spirits, she couldn’t focus. She let out a shaky breath before chewing at her lip in thought. An idea popped into her mind, and it wasn’t completely out of the question, but it certainly wouldn’t quell - or at least lower - the heat brewing in her abdomen. Korra closed her door as quietly as possible, locking it with the tiniest clicks that she was sure Tarrlok could’ve heard since it was now just the two of them and Naga in the estate.

 

Korra was certain she was going to hell. She listened for any sign of movement outside of her door, and when silence met her ears, she quietly padded her way to her mattress and settled back against the pillows. Her thoughts ran in frantic circles, replaying the scene from the night they kissed. She couldn’t remember the last time her mind focused on someone so intently. And to the spirits above, he was just down the hall.

 

What if he heard her? What if he walked in on her? Her mind frantically tried to reason with her that a girl has needs. He was avoiding her like the plague, after all. There was no way in hell he could walk in on her like this, especially with the way she locked the door. He didn’t have a master key right? She thought back to the times she locked her door. Though she couldn’t recall any form of a key grasped in his hands. Nonetheless, her eyes glanced at the knob anxiously before taking a deep breath in.

 

Although the last time she did this was with Howl in mind, she could not remember ever experiencing this persistent intensity. Warmth and anger and something nameless that constantly stirred her lower abdomen deliciously most definitely had never occurred when she thought about Howl.

 

Masturbation was not something Korra indulged in regularly. So did she really want to satiate her lust? This might only make her daydreaming problem worse. She considered getting back up, either grasping those index cards once more or making her way out to the brisk, rainy outdoors to cool her heated skin, but immediately abandoned the thought since it was past seven in the evening and was too lazy to get up. She even considered exercising in an attempt to ward off inappropriate thoughts and burn off some steam, but again, dropped the idea. Shifting back against the pillows, her mind immediately thought back to the night a few days ago, to the kisses they shared, tension and anxiety filling her body as she blushed at what she was about to do.

 

There was no reason for her to do this. No reason for her to fantasize about him. If anything, fantasizing about Tarrlok was just wrong. But having the knowledge that it was considered taboo and forbidden only made her more eager to provoke such a desirable release of tension. The kisses they shared only lasted a few minutes, yet that was no excuse to go daydreaming about her father or legal guardian or whatever he truly was. She berated herself for doing something that was more characteristic of those cheesy romance novels or what her horny classmates would do on their spare time, for actually giving into temptation and that subtle thrumming in her core every time she caught a glance at him or caught his scent lingering in the air.

 

She wondered what it would be like having that vanilla and tobacco scent cling to her skin. The implications that it brought sent a warm shiver down her spine as her chest tightened the slightest bit. What would he do to her? She had no doubt there were probably an endless amount of ways he could make her feel good, most likely things Korra had never thought of participating in. She’s in high school, surrounded by teenage boys, it was inevitable to hear them inflate their egos with blatant lies about having sex with girls and whatnot. Well, lies or not, she preferred being completely oblivious, especially in regards to her classmates.

 

Willing her overwrought mind to calm down, she closed her eyes, took a deep even breath in and gave into what her body demanded. She already felt her body respond to the little stimulation as she let a hand trail down the rough fabric of her shirt, sneaking under her sweat pants. Lazily, she traced a finger over the lace seam of her underwear before braving a graze over her cotton covered slit, gasping at the familiar heat that began to pool in her stomach.

 

The last time she did this it wasn’t like the raging inferno she was experiencing now. Nothing led up to the release when she had Howl in mind. She barely knew him, after all. Just the simple fact of physical attraction from afar, unrequited love. This time, it was nearly a whole month’s work of tension and teasing and flirting and kissing that sparked the idea and the long-awaited release she hoped for.

 

Releasing a shaky breath, she drew up with a scenario, immediately going along with the first thing that came to mind.

 

He was in his study, just as he was at the moment. But instead of her lying in bed with a blush heating her cheeks, she conjured up the courage to saunter towards the room with the door left slightly ajar. She would mutely open the door and watch the slow stream of smoke dissipate into the air as he hunched over his desk in dim lighting, no doubt wracking his brain with the stacks of papers. Naga would look at her with curious eyes before silently padding out of the office and into her bedroom as if she knew what was coming.

 

Korra would lightly place her hands on his broad shoulders, gently massaging his taut muscles. He would allow her to continue - or at least was indifferent to it since he never voiced for her to stop - while he resumed with his paperwork. Her fingers would work at his shoulders until she could hear a gratifying sigh escape his lips when she dug nails into his clothed flesh. She would creep her hands down his chest, bending lower to gather his hair over one shoulder and press delicate kisses to the side of his neck.

 

Subconsciously, the hand buried in her sweats began tracing slow circles over her neglected pearl, feeling the inferno within her spark hotter as she sought the stimulation to increase the growing heat inside her.

 

She imagined a shiver felt against her lips, and in turn she would drag her fingernails over his white button up, letting her teeth graze over the pulsating artery on his neck before suckling at his flesh. This would only increase his heart rate and inadvertently increase his breathing. Whether he wanted to or not, he would clench his jaw, cease the movement of his hand over the stack of paper and clasp the pen in his hand with a white-knuckled grip as he focused on her moving lips. Pulling away to give the reddened flesh a satisfied glance, Korra lightly nipped at his neck before soothing it with her tongue in an unvoiced apology. She imagined Tarrlok felt her nails dig into his chest a little deeper, but the slight pain would only bring another pleasurable flash of heat through the both of them.

 

Her heart was palpitating rapidly in her chest, internally wanting to run her hands over his body. Just like he was in reality, he was ignoring her, at least trying to anyway. But Korra was closely akin to a feline - in her fantasy, that is - and that only encouraged her to press further at his stony resistance, to witness his perfectly collected demeanor crumbled into dust. The thought of sending him to a trembling, groaning mess sparked the heat within her core to grow. She released a sigh as her finger rubbed tight circles against her covered clit, silently parting her thighs a fraction at the amazing tingles that vibrated through her.

 

As she moved away from him, slightly pulling the chair back to make enough room for herself, she ran a finger down his arm as her eyes strayed on the veins that rose from the surface of his forearm. Spirits, she doesn’t know why just the sight of his skin made her temperature rise further, but it did nonetheless. Vivid blue eyes met with pale ones with a heat that she could not describe. It was hotter than the looks he gave her when they teased each other, and nearly scorching compared to the time they kissed.

 

Without waiting for permission, Korra straddled his legs, watching his throat move as he swallowed nervously. It was as though he were too afraid to do anything too forward lest he’d hurt her. Her arms circled his neck, pressing herself flush against his chest. She gasped at the contact, rubbing clothed, erect nipples on his chest in the process. The distance between them gradually closed until thin lips longingly met her pouty ones. It was sweet and chaste, but she could sense his restraint crumbling as her hips impatiently ground against his in slow gyrations, his tongue flicking against her lips. She parted her lips to let him in and immediately the smooth muscle evenly danced with hers, rolled against hers, only to grasp at her thighs feverishly.

 

She bit her lip, trying to stifle the moan threatening to escape as her core began its pulsations, seeking the hard flesh of a certain man that was nowhere in her immediate vicinity. Korra swallowed anxiously, the flush reaching her neck. Just the thought of grinding her most sensitive spot against his hard groin helped her body hone in the pleasure she desperately wanted to reach.

 

Instead of stopping the rolling movement of her hips, she sensed him trying to guide them. Her hands dropped to his, maneuvering his large, warm ones from her thighs, up the soft material of her sweats, to the swell of her hips. Letting out a moan, his grip tightened on her flesh, the kiss unwavering as he set the circular motion of her hips over his arousal.

 

Groaning in tension, a hand shot to grasp the sheets crumpled at her side.

 

She couldn’t stand it anymore. She’s too worked up to drag this scenario out, even if it was worth it in the end. The tremors running through her veins intensified in her lower abdomen, unconsciously allowing a low moan slip from her lips. She’s too focused on the fantasy playing out behind closed lids. Instantly her mind skipped ahead, imagining her naked body pressed against his lest she go mad with arousal. Absently, the hand in her pants trailed under the lace waistband of her underwear.

 

The intensity was so much more acute with Tarrlok in mind than when she imagined Howl. She rarely indulged in this method of tension release, though she did try a handful of times, blaming it on her nosiness and curiosity, but her body simply seemed unresponsive to her own touch, and her attempts often ended with her feeling a little silly for thinking that squeezing her own breasts or rubbing her sex could produce such wanton pleasure just as that girl experienced in that raunchy novel she deliberately read. Her hand brushed over coarse, trimmed curls, and she could feel the intense heat of her sex radiating against her fingers.

 

She held her breath as a single finger traced plump lips that were moist with her desire, causing her to shudder in pleasure. The muscles lining her canal flexed at the thought of Tarrlok guiding her movements in a way that he relished just as her quim was grinding into her hand now. She began to imagine it was Tarrlok’s hardened arousal she was gyrating into, and not her own hand. Her breath was broken and irregular, her body trembling with anticipation as she let a single digit part her slick folds and rub up and down the cleft. Korra let out a soft whine and arched into her own touch as feminine muscles within instantly rippled at the sensation. The pleasure was warm and wondrous, ebbing and flowing with the caress of her finger, pulsing through her to make her toes tingle and her nipples tighten.

 

She relaxed against the pillows and parted her thighs wider, allowing her finger to probe her folds more thoroughly. She gasped aloud as she dipped a finger into her slick core, sinking it deeper and deeper into her sex, moaning and imagining something much bigger replacing her wet digit.

 

In her mind, he would grip her with possession, with a desire so desperate that their pace was in a frenzy, that their shared kisses were anything but gentle, filled with rough bites and volatile pecks. She wanted to see him give into what their bodies demanded. She wanted to witness his frigid veneer crumble into nothing under her ministrations.

 

The hand grasping at the sheets beneath her shot to sneak under her baggy shirt, allowing her to clutch at her breast and let a finger glide over an erect nipple. Her chest tightened further at the double stimulation.

 

She pictured herself straddling him, riding him on the very chair he sat in. He was deep within her, stretching her virginal core, hitting all the right places in her and moaning her name as his pants were yanked down to bunch around his ankles and his shirt was left unbuttoned for her to drink in the delicious sight of his exposed chest. Sweat would glisten on their skin as Tarrlok gripped her loose locks in one hand, possessively tilting her head to the side to expose her neck to him. His kisses are determined, rough, and open-mouthed, leaving her to feel each hard thrust upwards and hear each muffled grunt of his against her skin.

 

Korra’s breath hitched at the thought of Tarrlok’s lust-roughened voice moaning her name, whispering raspy words of encouragement, to enjoy it, to relax, to come for him. If he was anything like she imagined, she had no doubt he would dominate her and take the lead, letting his experience and skill take over. The finger inside her began to thrust quicker, harder and she could just make out the wet sounds of her digits as she raced towards that place she so desperately wanted to go, towards the place she imagined Tarrlok urged her to reach. The very thought only made her throbbing sex pulse hotter. Soft pants and choked off moans fell steadily from her lips as all the sensation in her entire body slimmed down to what was happening between her legs.

 

He would ram into her rapidly, the hands that gripped her hips undoubtedly leaving blossoming bruises for her to marvel at. In her mind’s eye, she imagined him yanking her down as he bucked up, the lewd sounds of their hips smacking together deliciously and the incessant creaking of the chair beneath them heating her cheeks in a fiery blush. The pace would grow frighteningly out of control, their moans mingling together noisily. He would bite at the crook of