Welcome to chapter 1 of Making Waves! This is going to be on the darker side, revolving around Korra as she grows into her new role as the Avatar and seeking to dig a little deeper into the main characters lives, motivations, and choices. While romance is not the singular focus here, this is effectively a Tahnorra piece. It may not seem that way at first, but trust me on this one. That said, Korra and Tahno are not the only main characters we will see.
This story begins immediately where Season 1 left off, and is pretty much canon-compliant up until that point. I can absolutely guarantee that it has nothing in common with what will become Season 2 (unless Nickelodeon suddenly decides to shift LoK toward a mature audience). And speaking of mature audiences, this story is intended for them. I know you kids will read it anyway, but don't come crying if it offends your delicate sensibilities. Rated M for a reason, people. There will be language, violence, "adult" situations, general unpleasantness, and just about everything else you can cram into the category of things NOT meant for young or sensitive readers. There's your warning…please heed it.
My outline for this story is framed around this being a multi-chapter piece…I estimate that it will be my longest yet. I'm hoping that this will allow me to develop the characters, their storylines, and the overall plot at a steady pace. Drawing things out will also give me the opportunity to incorporate reader critiques, suggestions, and insight into the writing as it progresses; which I found to be extraordinarily valuable in my previous multi-chapter fic. So please, don't shy away from telling me what you think each chapter…even if you hate it! Feedback, both positive and constructively negative, is appreciated.
And so we come to the obligatory disclaimer-All of the characters, settings, etc. are property of Nickelodeon and the creators of the series. I'm just borrowing them for a little harmless fun. Special thanks to "ECM" for planting these tiny little plot seeds in my brain. ;)
Here we go!
"Bo, pass the seaprune jelly!" Korra mumbled excitedly through a mouthful of half chewed kelp toast; her hand gesturing across the table where she and her friends and family were seated. Here, gathered with her mentors, comrades and dearest companions she felt as carefree and hopeful as she had in years. Though only two short weeks had passed since they had rushed to seek Katara's aid after Amon's defeat, Korra could not remember a time when the days had passed more quickly. Her happiness, she had decided, was to blame. Everything was working out for once in her life—With Aang's guidance she was now able to commune freely with the Spirits, and had achieved proficiency in the Avatar State. Four elements bent to her will…and much to the delight and relief of everyone, she had acquired the ability to restore bending abilities to those from whom it had been taken by Amon.
As if that all wasn't enough, she now had the heart of the man she loved. Though she and Mako had decided to take things slow and wait until the dust had settled before clarifying their relationship, there was no denying that finally gaining the affection she had long sought from the young firebender was having a positive effect on her attitude. Still, after all that they had been through it was not lost on the Avatar that Asami Sato—a dear friend in her own right—would be on the losing end of Korra and Mako's bliss. Korra took no pleasure in that unfortunate reality. For that reason she and Mako had agreed to wait until after their return to Republic City to confess their mutual sentiment for one another to their friends.
Bolin nodded sagely and reached for the jar Korra had indicated, tossing it clear over Master Katara's head—much to the delight of the airbender children—and into the Avatar's waiting hand. The earthbender gnawed dejectedly on his third helping of blubbered seal jerky and made a melodramatic show of taking his last wistful bite. "I am going to miss this stuff…"
"Don't you worry, I always send a few provisions home with Tenzin and Pema when they head back to Republic City." Katara assured him kindly, an amused half-smile forming on her weathered old face, "There might be a jar or two of my seaprune jelly to spare...and maybe a bit of jerky, as well."
"Thank you so much for your hospitality, Master Katara." Mako said softly. His dark amber eyes were lowered, but his gaze flicked meaningfully to where Korra sat inhaling her breakfast beside him. "This trip has been a whirlwind of ups, downs, and everything in between. Now that Korra is a fully realized Avatar, I'm not really sure what the future holds for any of us, but these past few days here together with all of you have really been amazing. I can't say I'm not anxious to get back to Republic City tomorrow, but I'm glad we've had this time. We all needed a break." The young firebender looked up at last, taking in the faces of the people who had become a surrogate family to him through all the trials and struggles over the past months.
From the other end of the table Tenzin cleared his throat approvingly, nodding his bald head and pressing his lips into what might have been his best attempt at a smile. "Indeed. We must be grateful for the reprieve; though we mustn't forget that the world hasn't stopped turning during our downtime. There's going to be a lot of work waiting ahead when we get home." The airbender's fingers steepled before him and he paused to choose his words as he glanced the Avatar's way. "General Iroh and his contingent from The United Forces have been handling affairs in the interim, but as the last surviving member of the council I am going to have a monumental task ahead of me once they've withdrawn. The city is still a state of upheaval—Amon may be gone, but the Equalist movement still lingers. I'm told that gang activity has exploded in the wake of the power vacuum left when the council was overthrown…Not to mention, there are going to be hundreds of people lined up waiting for the Avatar to restore the bending abilities that were stolen from them. Korra, you've certainly got your work cut out for you."
"She's not in it alone." Mako assured, risking an affectionate glance in the young woman's direction.
"Cheers to that!" Korra grinned, holding up her glass of walrus-yak milk. Her other hand snaked under the table to seek out Mako's; her fingers brushing against his discreetly.
"To Team Avatar!" Bolin declared, raising his glass triumphantly to clink against Korra's. His proclamation was soon met with a cacophony of other voices; though some were more exuberant than others. Even Lin sighed and joined in the display of camaraderie.
Only one glass still sat on the table, its contents as untouched as those on the plate beside it.
"Hey Asami, are you feeling okay?" Ikki asked curiously as she spun around on a gust of wind in her seat.
The young woman shook her head quietly, not looking up.
Taking a cue from his sister, Meelo scooted over and proffered a bowl of something pungent and undoubtedly fermented; shoving it helpfully into the Sato heiress's face. "Here, beautiful woman! A penguin egg a day keeps the doctor away!"
And that was the first time Asami Sato vomited on an airbender.
"Fuck off, Shaozu." His voice dripped a honey smooth tenor as it echoed the same words for the third time in as many moments.
The former firebender growled in frustration, hurling his half empty bottle of beer across the room of the upscale loft apartment. It shattered against the far wall of the parlor, pale yellow running down the bricks like piss in an alleyway. "What the fuck, Tahno!? Since when are you not on board with this? Are you too much of a pussy to get in the ring again? That it?" The distant hum of Satomobiles passing along the streets below gave way to an outburst of horn blaring as if to punctuate the question as it hung tauntingly in the air.
Ming scoffed, shaking his head as he looked back and forth between his two former teammates. "Hey man, lay off…He's right, though, Tahno—I heard it, too. It's all over the news. They said she can fix it…The Wolfbats can be back in action in time for next season." The largest man of the three bent forward, resting his elbows on his thighs. "Don't you want to hear us out?"
Gray eyes slid askance to glare icily at the mess of broken glass and cheap swill on his fine Kyoshian hardwood floors. "I don't care what the radio says. Maybe she's going to roll into Republic City and wave her magic 'Uhvatar wand and give us all our bending back…or maybe she won't. Doesn't really matter. But even IF it happens, I'm done. I'm done with the Wolfbats. I'm done with Probending." He lay back against the sofa, brow furrowed as he flicked his wrist dismissively. "And if this is all you've come here to say to me, then I'm done with you. Get out."
The former earthbender heaved a quiet sigh, but made no move to stand from his seat on the edge of the dining table. "It's not that easy, Tahno. You know that."
"You don't just decide you're 'done' with the Triads." Shaozu spat, pacing back and forth as he fidgeted in his pocket; proffering forth a shiny tin cigarette box and pulling one of the long, thin rolls from it before tucking the box away. "Not after all the money they have in us."
"Don't care." The team captain watched as the other man—once a gifted firebender—flicked his thumb against the tiny portable flint lighter with growing frustration before at last managing to conjure enough flame to light his cigarette.
"Yeah, you will." Ming assured him softly. "Crossing the Triads is a bad idea, man. We made a deal with them—"
"And we delivered the Championship." Was Tahno's sharp reply. "Again. Just like we were supposed to. They made millions of Yuan. Look where that got us." Long fingers tangled in his dark hair as he tucked the limp strands behind his ear. It had taken weeks for him to finally reach a point where speaking of that fateful night didn't leave him in a cold sweat. "Getting involved with the Triads was the stupidest thing we ever did. We could have done it without their backing." The former waterbender took a deep breath, softening his tone as he folded his arms behind his head. It had been him those years ago who had convinced two reluctant co-workers at the paper mill in White Falls to leave their grueling factory work behind and answer that open call for a probending team to represent the middle class borough. It had been him who had charmed, connived, and begged their way to enough money to buy equipment and entry fees to compete that first season. And when it hadn't been enough, it had been him who had gone to the Triple Threat Triads and made the deal to which Ming presently referred. "I've learned my lesson."
A chair scraped across the floor noisily as Shaozu deposited himself unceremoniously into it. "That what you're gonna tell them when they show up at your door, 'T'? You learned your lesson, and now you're gonna prance back down to White Falls and start walkin' the straight and narrow? 'Cause all that's gonna get you is a sharp rock to the face." He continued to puff at the cigarette that dangled precariously from the corner of his mount, raising a hand to fidget with his twirled coif of hair before adding absently, "And where's that gonna leave Ming and me?"
"Gee, smoke-for-brains, I seem to have forgotten how that's my problem." Tahno quipped back caustically, deigning to toss a look of annoyance in his former teammate's direction. "Find another waterbender." He suggested more seriously. "I hear that douche Hasook's looking for a way back into the pros."
Shaozu rolled his eyes. "Fucking Hasook…"
"Tahno, please." Ming interjected, bringing the conversation back to square one. "Look, you know we wouldn't be begging if we had another option. Pebble Po came down to Narook's last night and he told me shit's about to get messy real soon. Since Zolt and Shin…well, you know…the organization has shifted under some of the other bosses. They're more brazen now, and looking to raise some serious cash for something big—Pebble says he's been paying off officials left and right, trying to swing something with the new city council elections. He said they've got to keep the cash flowing, so the Triads are calling in all their contracts and favors, and they aren't taking 'no' for an answer…The Wolfbats were a big money-maker for them." The green collar of Ming's jacket was darkening with moisture, and he slid two fingers around it to loosen it from his thick neck. "The way he said it, man, it wasn't a request."
Tahno furrowed his brow, pressing his lips together as he considered the information his friend had finally seen fit to divulge. Whatever else Pebble Po had said to the two of them obviously had Shaozu worried and even Ming—the calm one—shaken. Once, years ago during the first winter after he had immigrated to Republic City from Foggy Swamp village, Tahno had accidentally stumbled across the remains of what locals had referred to as "Triad Justice". The charred corpses were strung up in front of the shop they had presumably owned, with rocks where their eyes should have been and icicles the size of a man's arm piercing their bellies and dripping puddles of water on the pavement below. At the time the young waterbender had marveled that anybody would be foolish enough to get themselves on the wrong side of a gang like the Triads. Of course, a bit of desperation and a dash of hubris had led him to make the mistake of borrowing money from them back in those days, which had effectively bound his wrists to the same criminal underworld that had cost those poor folks their lives. "That so?" He hoped that his voice would not betray his newfound concern.
"Yeah. Po told me we should hurry to get in the line when the Avatar starts restoring bending…sooner the better, so we can make ourselves useful."
"Well…In that case, maybe it'd be better if we weren't any use to them."
"Pardon?" Ming asked, confusion clearly written on his face.
"I said, maybe it would be best if we remained useless."
"What the fuck's that supposed to mean?" Shaozu scoffed.
Tahno took a deep breath, sitting up and allowing his gaze to shift between the other two men. "It means this is our out, boys. We can't pro-bend if we can't bend. We wouldn't be worth a hill of beans to the Triads, and they can fill The Wolfbats roster with some other schmucks and forget all about us." Inside his chest the former waterbender felt his heart constrict, and his blood run cold. "All we have to do…is nothing."
"Are you….sure?" Korra whispered, her hands shaking and her stomach so twisted into knots that it hurt to stand up straight.
"I've been doing this a long time, Dear." Katara assured the young Avatar, her wrinkled old face creasing as she set her lips into a firm line and patted the girl's shoulder sympathetically. "I know it all seems very scary at first, and perhaps it wasn't in anyone's plans right now, but these things happen and it doesn't mean it's the end of the world. In fact, it might be quite the opposite."
"I know. But…"
"She's your friend, and she's going to need your support now more than ever."
"Mako, too. He's a good young man. Asami is lucky she has him." The old waterbender smiled, oblivious to the way that Korra's heart was shattering at every word.
"Would you like me to tell him?"
The young woman heaved a shuddering breath, attempting futilely to gather her calm and banish the numbness that had frozen her nerves. "Tell Mako?"
"Tell me what?"
When Korra spun around to face the tall firebender who had just emerged through the doorway to the dimly lit room, all semblance of control left her. Hot tears flooded her eyes, causing her blue gaze to ripple and blur. "Mako…"
"Spirits, Korra, what's wrong?" He murmured, instantly at her side. "Is Asami okay?" When the Avatar did not answer the young man's golden eyes flicked to the old woman.
"She'll be fine." Katara assured him. "And so will the baby."
A/N-2: And there you have it…One chapter down! It's a bit on the short side, but that seemed like the right place to end it. Next chapter will take us back to Republic City and we'll get to see some of the fallout from that last bit…among other things! Thanks for reading!