Korra's eyes shot open to the greeting of pure, crippling agony. She was suspended in the air. Darkness shrouded every direction she could turn her head. She struggled against the bindings on her wrists and ankles, but she couldn't bend the metal, all the while her legs and back felt the seering pain of intense heat without so much as a flicker of flame. The only tell to the cause was the heavy feeling of liquid metal in her muscles. She yelled for help with all the force in her lungs. No one heeded her call. Her yelling continued as the pain grew, becoming more and more desperate. As time passed with no one coming to her aid, her yells became screams. Sweat ran from every pore in her body. Her throat became raw, and she found that she could only sob in desperate gasps. Just as her hope had left her, she heard movement in front of her.

"Please! Help me!" It was all she could choke out as she saw a figure step forward from the shadows. As the body stepped into view, she heard a voice that melted her brief hope. "I told you I would destroy you." The last of the color drained from her face. Despite the burning in her muscles, her blood ran cold. "No! You-You're gone!" She shook her head desperately at the man in the white mask. His cold eyes were the same. Piercing. Unmerciful. "Equality is an idea. And ideas are immortal, Avatar. Your impurity, on the other hand, will soon be nothing more than a blemish on history." Every syllable continually burried her under a mountain of helplessness. "Everything you've done has made the world worse. You don't deserve your place in it. When I'm done with you, I will be the harbringer of balance." All she could do was gasp as her pain began to drown her. Amon stood cold with his arms behind his back, almost glowing in the abyss. An orange diamond appeared on the endless shadows behind him, followed by intricate patterns of red. It's voice rang out with eons of authority. "The world doesn't need you anymore, Raava!" Her eyes shut and her jaw clenched; her teath beginning to crack as she screamed silently in her head, calling out mentally to anyone that might save her as she felt her skin slowly peel near her bindings from the poison. "Please...Anyone..." Finally, a gust of wind traveled through the dark around her. He was flying, eye level with her, suspended by her chains. The union of their three voices hissed in a great whisper around her. It was echoed from every shadow. "Embrace your end." Zaheer raised his hand, and she felt the air being pulled from her lungs...

Korra's eyes shot open and she began coughing. She was sweating through her tank top and her bed sheets, despite the cold night. She shoved her covers off, and pulled her legs up and out of them as best as she could, desperate to rid herself of any sort of confinement. She sobbed loudly, still gasping for the air her nightmare had stolen from her. Her heart pounded and she crawled to the edge of her bed, vomitting into the trash bucket she had taken to keeping at her bedside. She curled herself into a ball and laid there, shivering for what felt like ages. Her eyes wandered the room, paranoid and panicked, seeing the shadows move. She closed her eyes, reminding herself that it wasn't real. Her heart continued to race in her chest. Then she heard a flick. "Korra?" The light was on, mercifully, and in the doorway stood a very sleepy, and disheveled Asami Sato. Even in the middle of the night, she somehow managed to look graceful. Red silk pajamas were an unfair aid at 2 a.m. "Are you okay?" she asked, dazed, but worried. Korra nodded, but couldn't compose herself at all to fit with her lie. She was still curled, still trying to shake off her nightmare. Asami rubbed her eyes quickly, walked over to her bedside, and sat down by her legs.

Asami placed her hand on Korra's and gently stroked her knuckles with her thumb. It had become very common practice with Korra in the last couple of weeks. Air Temple Island had become her temporary home since they had returned to Republic City. Delegating various tasks to the heads of different departments would keep Future Industries stable indefinitely as long as she checked in on important matters. It let her stay by Korra's side for as long as needed. Asami kept rubbing Korra's knuckles for several moments, but tonight, this small gesture of affection was inadequate to soothe her. She looked over at the bin; seeing the vomit and spoke softly, "I'll be right back, okay?". Asami tried to make eye contact, but Korra just stared at the wall, eyes slightly wider than they should be. Korra nodded again, unwilling or unable to speak, Asami wasn't sure yet. Asami quickly returned to the room with a pitcher of water and couple of glasses, pouring them on the bedside table. She helped Korra sit up and handed her the water. Korra likely didn't realize just how thirsty she had been, and Asami watched as she quickly downed the glass and set it aside, catching her breath. Asami looked into Korra's eyes for a few moments. They were unfocused. Like they were intentionally avoiding her. "You know I'm here for you, Korra." It was a phrase Asami had found herself repeating over and over as the days went on. It was Asami's way of trying to get Korra to open up, without pressuring her. But Korra had been getting worse. She wasn't sure how to circumvent Korra's stoic demeanor. However, this wasn't stoic, this was fear. Something she had never seen on Korra's face for more than a few rare moments in combat or when someone else's life was in danger.

Korra's nightmares had been getting progressively frequent in the last two weeks. For the last three nights in a row, they had tormented her. This had been the worst yet. Zaheer or Amon were frightening enough on their own. But all three of them? She felt like she was loosing her sanity. As if enough hadn't already been taken from her. She was relieved to have Asami in the room, but humiliated all the same. "I'm not a damn child. I'm the Avatar. Why am I so weak?!" she thought. She let her eyes flash to Asami. Her face was as much of a comfort as it was beautiful. She wanted to tell her everything. This woman had practically put her life on hold for her the last 3 weeks and taken care of her, yet here she was, struggling to be open about anything going on in her head. She'd barley spoken more than a sentence at a time to Asami since she lost the use of her legs. "How often have you been having nightmares, Korra?" she asked. "It's starting to happen every night." Korra answered. That was a start. But just saying it spiked her anxiety. "Is it going to be like this from now on?" was just one of that many thoughts spilling into her head.

Asami reached out to her. She had been so worried about making Korra feel pitied since the battle with Zaheer. Pity was something Korra just simply didn't tolerate well. But Asami's sympathy won out and didn't give her time to think about it. She squeezed Korra in an embrace that wasn't returned. She held on for a few moments, but quickly grew self concious of the limp girl in her arms. As Asami began to pull away she felt Korra whisper into her collar bone, "Please don't leave." Asami pulled back and found Korra's face running with tears. Asami crushed Korra to herself and held her there, rocking her back and forth. Korra's arms found purchase around Asami's middle and she clinged to her. Asami whispered into her hair, "Don't worry, I won't go anywhere." Asami was happy Korra was showing some emotion, but seeing her friend so vulnerable frightened her. She had gotten used to Korra's cold and solemn personality as the days had passed, but this was different. She wasn't just broken. She was shattered. "Do you want to talk about?" It was all Asami could think to ask. "No." Korra whispered. "I think you need to." Asami replied. Korra shook her head. Asami pulled Korra away from her shoulder to look her in the eye. "Come on Korra. Talk to me. You know you need to let it out. Let me help you." Asami spoke with urgency, "Please."

Korra was struggling not to bury her head in her hands from the entire situation. She refused to do anything more than whisper out of fear of sounding like a harpooned seal-penguin. Korra knew Asami was right, but the thought of going in depth and re-experiencing any of what had happened terrified her. She wasn't ready. Not tonight. She simply couldn't handle it. But she had to make Asami understand, so she summoned what remained of her focus from her head and let her words spill. "Asami," steadying her voice, "Look, I know you're right, but I can't take anymore tonight. It's too much. I'll say and do whatever you want tomorrow, just please not now." Korra's voice broke into a half sob towards the end of plea. "Spirits, please make her understand." was the only tangible thought in her head.

Asami pulled her back in. Korra never admitted when she couldn't handle something. In her head, nothing was too much for her. It was so unfamiliar to see her like this. Asami was unsure of what to do now, other than hold her. Seconds passed. Then minutes. And finally, Korra cried herself out. She seemed half asleep now. Asami grabbed the second glass off of the table and drank deeply, then refilled Korra's, offering it to her. After Korra drank her fill, Asami helped her lay back. "I'll come running if you need me Korra, I promise." she said this not really wanting to leave, but seeing that Korra was going to fall over if she stayed up any longer didn't give her much of a choice. She stood up and walked towards the door, opening it. She turned to look back at Korra.

Korra began to panic. She wasn't sure why for a moment. But it occured to her that she was scared to sleep. And even worse, scared to be alone. Asami was leaving the room. Korra wanted to throttle herself again for being weak. For being pathetic. But she let the words fall out anyway. "You said you wouldn't leave." she tried to chuckle, playing it off as a joke out of embaressment. But her eyes watered. She couldn't believe she had said that. Asami had already done more than her fair share by miles. "What's she suppose to do, sit with me until I fall asleep like I'm four years old?" Korra closed her eyes out of shame, expecting her friend to finally be fed up with her. She heard the light flick, and the door close. Korra turned on her side and whimpered. She was both alone and she had humiliated herself. Her breathing became shallow and she started to curl herself into a ball, when the covers shifted. She stiffened in momentary fright before Asami's voice reached her ears. "Shhhh. It's only me. I'm not going anywhere if you don't want me to." Asami reached over and traced the side of Korra's face with her thumb. Korra's relief was like 100 kilo weight being lifted from her chest. Feeling Asami's hand stroking her face was making her more comfortable in her own bed than she had been in weeks. But as her breath came back, her guilt set in. She looked away from Asami's figure in the dark and apologized. "I'm so sorry, Asami. I know it's stupid, and childish, and pathetic, and..." "Stop it Korra!" Asami spoke in a sharp whisper. "You don't have to be ashamed of feeling like you need help, least of all with me. I will always help you." Asami paused briefly to speak in a calmer tone. "Everyone needs someone to lean on. You've been there for me. You've been there for everyone in the world. So why can't someone be here for you when you need it?"

Asami waited for an answer, but Korra had gone quiet. As her eyes adjusted to the dark, she saw Korra's face. She was being stubborn despite not having an answer. "Of course. Of all the typical 'Korra' traits she could be showing right now, she's being headstrong about feeling weak." Asami would have rolled her eyes if it wasn't heartbreaking. She became briefly frustrated, wishing she had the right combination of words that could magically make Korra feel better. But as she wondered, she began to get lost in the features of her face. Korr'as face had become thin and she had developed bags under her eyes. But even so, her face made Asami's eyes linger for ages. Her skin was the color of lightly creamed coffee. Her eyebrows were just the right thickness for her silliest, goofiest facial expressions. And those eyes. Even through the dim light, Korra's eyes were piercing blue. Korra had started to relax, but she seemed reluctant to sleep. Now that Korra was actually letting herself show facial expressions, Asami didn't take very long picking up on why. She scooted closer and pressed her forehead to Korra's and whispered, "I'll keep you safe. I promise. You don't have to be the Avatar with me. I'll be here the whole time." Asami couldn't really keep Korra safe from her nightmares, but she could at least wake her up. She just hoped saying it would allow Korra to feel relaxed, even if it forced her to lean on someone.

Hearing those words helped Korra feel secured. Seeing those green eyes stare into her's, and knowing Asami meant every word was pure comfort. Korra was beyond grateful. Looking into her face made Korra feel like she was under the pull of gravity. Like she couldn't be close enough to Asami. She wasn't sure why she was feeling it. She was barely even thinking as she let her eyes shut and close the small gap between their lips. She pulled away, and her eyes never reopened, mumbling "Thank you." and finally drifting off into a peaceful sleep. Too mentally and physically exhausted to even have a ghost of worry about the consequences of what she had just done.

Asami's eyes were open and wide as Korra's lips pressed against hers. She froze, unsure of how to react immediately. But as Korra pulled away from her, Asami leaned forward and closed her eyes, not ready for her lips leave yet. Eventually Korra pulled herself back entirely, and Asami couldn't follow without moving her whole frame. She was going to, but as Korra pulled away, Asami could see the exhaustion in Korra, and watched her fall quickly asleep. This left Asami's mind to wander for several minutes. She hadn't dared hope that Korra would ever think of her the way Asami caught herself thinking about her. Even after everything that had happened tonight, maybe she should forget about it. Korra had been vulnerable and fatigued. "Did the kiss even count?" Asami let her eyes droop as she pondered this, both happy and worried from what had just taken place. But it could all be sorted tomorrow, she reasoned, as she stroked Korra's face with her thumb one last time, before falling asleep with a smirk on her face.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Just South-East of the Dragon Flats in Republic City, on the edge of Agni-Kai territory, a small bar was closing up for the night. "Last call was two hours ago, boys. Pack it up so I can go home and get some damn sleep." the bartender chuckled. Most bartenders in the city bowed to triad members out of fear, but Zeke was no pushover. Being on good terms with all the higher-ups in the Agni-Kai kept his business free of brawls and favors back and forth kept them friendly, so he had no problem talking to the young up and comers like the rowdy punks that they were. "Alright, alright. Hold your ostrich-horse old man, we're gone." one of the Kai's grumbled as they all stood up. They had made good money that day, and a celebration had been in order. They left a generous amount of yuans on the table when they stood. Zeke nodded and flashed a smile in appreciation as they left and began to wipe the tables down as he heard the door closed. He finished taking the glasses back to the kitchen and turned off the lights. He'd clean in the morning. The goofy brats had kept him up long enough. Zeke locked the door and turned to go up the stairs to his living area above the bar. Before his foot hit the steps, he heard several screams, worse than any he'd ever heard that close to the bar. He knew he should ignore it. But their faces tugged at his heartstrings. Those boys were good customers, and never gave him more trouble than the occasional joke at his age. He looked out the window through the bars and saw what looked like smoke. No movement. He unlocked the door and peaked outside. He could see the shadow of bodies as the smoke began to clear. No one standing. No threats in any direction. "Hey!" he shouted, turning his head in every direction, trying to get a look. Still no movement. He stepped towards the clearing smoke and realized it wasn't smoke at all. Fog. This was dangerous. This meant Triple Threats or Monsoons. This wasn't something he should involve himself in. But he had to check on the kids. The fog lifted and with no one in sight on the dark street, he knelt beside the nearest triad. The kid's face was red. Eyes open. Mouth stuck in a scream. Every inch of skin looked swollen. And the smell. He emptied his stomach on the pavement. The scent of boiling meat crept into the air off of each corpse . Zeke had never seen anything like it in his fifty-five years. It took a lot not to scream out of fear. He looked at the others, all the same. He ran inside and called one of the higher-ups of the Agni-Kais, explaining what he could, and getting the okay to call the police.

A/N:

This is my very first piece of fanfiction. It's be re-read and messed with a dozen times over. The back and forth switching of perspectives makes me a little nervous, so let me know if I should quit that. I love Book 3 aftermath stories, but none of them have ever really satisfied me so I thought I'd try my hand in it. A lot of this was taken from personal experience (I was told I projected myself a bit onto Asami). Anyways, I'm going to try and make a plot out of this and see where it goes. Please leave a review if you're up to it. :3